President Trump will speak in Phoenix, AZ on Tuesday evening. The speech could have huge implications on Arizona politics and will naturally be monitored for violence, given the uneasy state of the country following the Charlottesville protests.
Here are four things you need to know about Trump’s Arizona speech.
1. There will be a massive police presence in the event that violence breaks out. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, was irked that Trump didn’t postpone his rally until tensions in the country calmed down, but he did state that the city was ready to handle any potential violence. Groups like Antifa are expected to roam the streets of Phoenix nearby so the police had better prepare themselves.
2. There is speculation that Trump will attack Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) at the event. Flake has long drawn the ire of the president, given his refusal to endorse him during the election and his recent criticism of Trump. Trump seemed to all but endorse Kelli Ward in a tweet on Thursday, but the preference seems to be that some other candidate, like State Treasurer Jeff DeWit and former Arizona GOP Chairman Robert Graham, will run in the primary and Trump would throw his support behind the candidate. But Thursday’s tweet seems to indicate warmth for Ward.
Ward will be attending the rally, but Trump aides are ensuring that she doesn’t have VIP seating so she doesn’t claim that Trump officially endorsed her.
3. There is also speculation that Trump will announce a pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio at the event. The pardon of Arpaio is something that Trump has reportedly been seriously mulling, which would make sense given that Arpaio has been an ardent supporter of Trump and was a promoter of the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States. Arpaio was convicted of being held in contempt for violating court orders to cease racial profiling. His defenders have claimed that a “witch hunt” is being leveled against him.
4. Phoenix is where the Trump campaign really took off. Phillip Bump reminded readers at The Washington Post that when Trump initially launched his presidential campaign in June 2015, his poll numbers were subpar at best. It wasn’t until the following month that his poll numbers really took off, as Trump held a rally in Phoenix where he railed “on illegal immigration, on the Islamic State, on the boycotts of his products, on celebrities, on the lying media, on how bad Jeb Bush is and so on.” It propelled him to first place in the polls and he never looked back. There’s no doubt that Trump will bring this up on Tuesday night and gloat about his November upset.
UPDATE: It’s being reported that Arpaio won’t be pardoned on Tuesday night.