President Donald Trump plans to give a campaign rally-esque speech in Phoenix on Tuesday, a night after speaking to the nation about the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
The New York Times reported that the rally will likely have protests from a number of groups. Some local officials have asked Trump to delay his trip.
“America is hurting,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, wrote for the Washington Post. “And it is hurting largely because Trump has doused racial tensions with gasoline. With his planned visit to Phoenix on Tuesday, I fear the president may be looking to light a match.”
Trump’s rally might also hold significance because it comes in a state with a senator who is a known critic of Trump — Sen. Jeff Flake. Neither Flake nor Arizona Sen. John McCain are expected to attend.
Flake and Trump’s relationship has reached something of a boiling point in recent weeks. Last week, Trump tweeted about how Flake was “toxic,” adding that he was “weak on borders” policy.
Trump has long had a tough stance on border patrol, calling for a wall along the Mexican border.
Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He's toxic!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
Trump’s tweet last week also praised Dr. Kelli Ward, who will be running against Flake in the 2018 Republican primary.
As Politico reported, White House officials met with multiple challengers to Flake’s seat, including Ward. It has also been suggested that Trump will spend $10 million of his own money to support a candidate who can defeat Flake, according to Vox.
GOP leaders told the Washington Post that they hope Trump stays away from the race, as it could potentially put the Republican Party’s senate majority at risk.
“There are 10 Senate Democrats up for reelection in states the President won in 2016, and that’s where his political focus and energy ought to be over the next 14 months, instead of harmful intraparty warfare,” Brian Walsh, a former communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told the Washington Post.
The Washington Post has reported that some leaders see Flake’s recent book, “The Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle,” which included words against Trump, as an exit strategy for the senator.
His book received national media attention. Flake wrote that he hopes politicians will start to work for the good of the Republican Party and not only to serve the president.
"There was a time when the leadership of the Congress from both parties felt an institutional loyalty that would frequently create bonds across party lines in defense of congressional prerogatives in a unified front against the White House, regardless of the president's party,” he wrote, according to excerpt from Politico.
Flake also wrote that Americans should feel free to speak out against Trump.
"We shouldn't hesitate to speak out if the president 'plays to the base' in ways that damage the Republican Party's ability to grow and speak to a larger audience,” he wrote.
According to The Atlantic, this has been Flake’s plan for awhile, taking a gamble by standing up for decency.
“He clearly sees himself as engaged in a fight for the soul of his party — beating back the barbarian populists at the gate, standing up for decency and old-fashioned conservative values. But the political battlefield has never looked more uninviting to a warrior of Flake’s kind,” according to The Atlantic.
It’s unclear how Trump’s rally will go over in Arizona. He did win the state in the 2016 election, beating Hillary Clinton 48.1 percent to 44.6 percent.