Trump to use 'big voice' to boost GOP on 4-day Western trip

Associated Press
February 18, 2020 - 9:48 pm

President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Los Angeles 2028 organizers, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


LOS ANGELES (AP) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday veered into politics during a briefing on preparations for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, criticizing the city's political leadership for failing to curtail its homelessness epidemic.

Trump said if Los Angeles doesn't “clean it up fast,” he will intervene.

"If they can’t do it themselves, we’re going to do it,” Trump said. “The federal government is going to take it over, we're going to do it.“

Trump has battled with California's Democratic leaders throughout his three years in office, with state Attorney General Xavier Becerra filing dozens of lawsuits against the Trump administration over environmental regulations, immigration issues and other White House policies.

The president also has repeatedly lashed out against the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents a San Francisco district, over the homeless issues in those cities.

The president in the past has referred to the crisis in the two California cities as “disgusting” and a “disgrace to our country.”

Trump made the comments as he met with the Los Angeles Olympic committee to get an update on preparations for the Summer Games, the first Olympics to be hosted by the U.S. since the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. He promised his administration would help the city prepare for the games.

“This is a big deal,” said Trump, who signed an agreement pledging the federal government’s support of the Los Angeles committee.

Trump is at the start of a four-day visit to Western states that is expected to be a mixing of policy and politics.

Trump's trip will be packed with big-dollar fundraisers, a trio of campaign rallies meant to energize his base and a sprinkle of official presidential events where he can showcase administration actions and offset some of his travel costs.

The trip to California, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado is an unusually long domestic trip for Trump, who prefers to sleep in his own bed but is stepping up his political travel now that his impeachment trial is over. He was expected to raise $14 million at two California campaign fundraisers, according to a Republican official familiar with the planning of the events. That money will be split among his campaign, the Republican National Committee and 22 Republican state parties.

Trump will spend the nights in Las Vegas, just as Democrats have descended on the state ahead of a debate there Wednesday and Nevada’s Democratic caucuses on Saturday. The rallies will take him to two states with vulnerable Republican senators — Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha McSally of Arizona. Both stood by Trump during the Senate's impeachment trial.

Trump also announced that he will soon head to South Carolina to campaign, likely the day before Democrats in the state hold their primary on Feb. 29.

“Look — we have a big voice, and we might as well use it,” Trump told reporters before departing Washington.

At the Olympic committee event, he took a shot at former President Barack Obama's administration, suggesting that his White House has shown more commitment to bringing the international event back to the U.S.

“The Olympic committee, really wanted the government, they just wanted some support and they were not getting it at all from the past administration,” Trump said. “We're going to give them tremendous support. You need the support of the federal government to make it really work.”

The official event, conducted alongside a high-dollar fundraiser at the Montage Beverly Hills, helps defray the cost to Trump's campaign for the cross-country trip.

It's a common scheduling technique by presidents of both parties to have the government shoulder the burden of some of their political travel. He is scheduled to travel to Las Vegas late Tuesday evening, where he is expected to stay at his private hotel just off the Las Vegas Strip.

On Wednesday, Trump will fly to Rancho Mirage, California, to billionaire Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison's estate, which includes a private golf club, where his campaign is hosting a golf outing and fundraiser. Ellison previously hosted Obama at the course, which, like others in the arid Coachella Valley, has faced scrutiny for high water usage.

Trump will then visit Bakersfield, California, the hometown of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, “to speak with hardworking farmers in the Central Valley about efforts to dramatically improve the supply and delivery of water in California and other Western states,” the White House said.

Trump will then hold a rally in Phoenix before returning to Las Vegas.

On Thursday, Trump will speak at the Hope for Prisoners Graduation Ceremony held at the Las Vegas police headquarters, the White House said, adding that the president intends to focus on efforts "to provide previously incarcerated Americans with second chances." He will hold another rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, before flying back to Las Vegas.

He will hold a final rally in Las Vegas on Friday.

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