Trump’s meeting with Philly firefighter union nixed after president tests positive for COVID-19

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) introduces 7th U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House September 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. With 38 days until the election, Trump tapped Barrett to be his third Supreme Court nominee in just four years and to replace the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By Michael D’Onofrio

PHILADELPHIA — President Donald Trump’s planned meeting with Philadelphia firefighter union members this weekend has been axed after the president tested positive for COVID-19.

Trump’s Secret Service informed members of the International Association of Firefighters Local 22 early Friday that the event was scrapped, said a union representative who declined to give her name.

“It was quick,” said the union representative. “First it was on and then it was off.”

IAFF Local 22 President Michael Bresnan declined comment.

The update came hours after Trump tweeted he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Trump tests positive for COVID-19, enters quarantine

The president had planned to meet with fewer than 50 union members inside the union’s headquarters at 415 N. 5th St. A surrogate will not take Trump’s place and a virtual event is not planned.

The union announced Trump’s visit to members on Thursday, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The White House and Thea McDonald, a spokeswoman for Trump’s national re-election campaign, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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IAFF Local 22 endorsed Trump this week — a move that has roiled the local ranks of its members of color and broken with the national union leadership’s backing of Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee.

In a letter to members this week, Bresnan said the union “proudly endorses” and pledges its “full support” to Trump. He added that Local 22 members were surveyed and “overwhelmingly chose President Trump” — which some members have contested.

Bresnan said in the letter that IAFF leadership did not canvass local unions before it endorsed Biden.

“They know what is at stake in this election and this endorsement should be a wake-up call to IAFF leaders that have lost touch with the will of the membership,” Bresnan said in the letter.

The fraternal organizations that represent African Americans and Latino Americans have come out strongly against Bresnan’s endorsement of Trump, saying they were both left out of the endorsement process.

Firefighters protested the union’s endorsement of Trump outside the union’s headquarters on Friday, calling for the endorsement to be rescinded, according to KYW 1060AM News Radio.

Lisa Forrest, president of Club Valiants, a fraternal organization for Philadelphia’s African-American firefighters, said only about 500 union members responded to a survey about whom to endorse, according to KYW.

IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger officially endorsed Biden last year. In a video posted on social media, Schaitberger said Biden, “through civility and decency, will enhance the political discourse that our country needs right now.”

Michael D’Onofrio is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared