President Donald Trump's re-election campaign has slated a rally next week
His event will be in Arizona where the President has fought with both senators
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said he is “disappointed” that President Donald Trump plans to hold a campaign rally in Arizona during the national turmoil following the events in Charlottesville over the weekend.
Trump is planning a campaign-style rally in Arizona next week, amid an uproar sparked by his ambivalent response to white supremacists and the death of an anti-racist protester in the Charlottesville violence.
The President host supporters in Phoenix next Tuesday, one week after he reiterated his claim that anti-racist protesters were as violent as Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville and that the “alt-right” groups included some “very fine” people.
In a statement Wednesday night, Stanton said he hopes Trump’s “more sound judgment prevails” and that he will delay his visit.
“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,” he said.
The Trump rally, organized by his re-election campaign, appears to mirror the 2016 campaign rallies which helped rocket him to the front of the Republican pack but were also marred by racial and anti-Semitic tensions. In an Arizona rally last October, a Trump supporter walked by the media chanting “Jew-S-A” – something Trump’s campaign advisers denounced at the time.
Adding to the tension, Trump appeared to hint over the weekend that he may pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio – a lightning rod for more than a decade in the immigration battle, who was found guilty last month of refusing to follow a judge’s order barring him from racially profiling Latinos. Phoenix is in Maricopa County. Trump retweeted a story from Fox News reporting that he was “seriously considering” pardoning Arpaio.
In his statement, Stanton argued: “If President Trump is coming to Phoenix to announce a pardon for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, then it will be clear that his true intent is to enflame emotions and further divide our nation.”
Meanwhile, Republican leaders have run from Trump in the wake of Tuesday’s comments on Charlottesville – distancing themselves in much the same way as they did during the 2016 campaign, but not attacking him.
Both of Arizona’s Republican senators – Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake – said Tuesday that Trump’s comments Tuesday were unacceptable.
“We cannot accept excuses for white supremacy and acts of domestic terrorism. We must condemn them. Period,” Flake said in a statement.
And McCain tweeted: “There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry. The President of the United States should say so.”
Trump has fought with both senators extensively, with Trump’s allies even going so far as to recruit a Republican challenger to try and unseat Flake next November.
Trump’s comments Tuesday marked an about-face, one day after he squarely condemned the racism and bigotry displayed by white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville. Some members of his own administration, including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – reiterated their opposition to racism after Trump’s comments.
But the White House provided talking points to supporters Tuesday, recommending they repeat many of the President’s same arguments equating anti-racist protesters to white supremacists.
CNN’s Sophie Tatum contributed to this report.