Trump’s campaign rally in Arizona survives Charlottesville fallout
ABC News(NEW YORK) — President Donald Trump is headed west to Phoenix today to hold a campaign rally amid lingering fallout from the violent clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in three deaths.
Trump’s response to Charlottesville that “both sides” contributed to the violence was criticized for seeming to equate white supremacists to the counterprotesters.
Several groups plan to protest outside Trump’s rally at 7 p.m. local time Tuesday night at the Phoenix Convention Center.
The mayor of Phoenix had tried to appeal to Trump to postpone his rally, which is being organized by Trump’s presidential campaign committee.
“I am disappointed that President Trump has chosen to hold a campaign rally as our nation is still healing from the tragic events in Charlottesville,” Mayor Greg Stanton said in a statement last Wednesday. “It is my hope that more sound judgment prevails and that he delays his visit.”
There was speculation that Trump might announce a presidential pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of criminal contempt last month.
Arpaio told ABC News he has not been invited to Trump’s campaign rally. The former sheriff said he doesn’t view that as a sign that he is no longer being considered for a pardon but, rather, that tonight’s venue was not the right setting.
A source involved in planning today’s event told ABC News that a pardon is “highly unlikely” but cautioned that there’s always potential for things to go off script.
Trump’s visit to Arizona also puts attention on his relationship with the two Republican senators from that state, John McCain and Jeff Flake, with the latter facing re-election next year.
On Twitter last Thursday, Trump bashed Flake as “toxic” and a “non-factor in the Senate.” He also tweeted that it’s “great to see” GOP Senate candidate Kelli Ward running against Sen. Flake, an unusual move given that a president typically does not openly campaign against an incumbent of his own party.
Ward will be in attendance at the rally but her campaign declined to say whether an official endorsement by President Trump is expected.
“We’ll see what happens,” Ward’s campaign press secretary Jennifer Lawrence told ABC News.
Before he heads to Phoenix, Trump will get a tour of a border patrol base in Yuma, Arizona.
He’ll view a drone, boat and surveillance truck used by U.S. Border Patrol, following by a private briefing and a meet-and-greet with U.S. Marines.
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