Trump's Milwaukee Remarks Spark Outrage

As Milwaukee gears up to host the Republican National Convention, remarks attributed to former President Donald Trump have ignited controversy and debate.

Published June 14, 2024 - 00:06am

10 minutes read
United States
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Several congressmen who support Trump and attended the meeting argued he was referring to crime and voter fraud. Trump frequently denounces Democratic-led cities as unsafe -- even as violent crime decreased nationally in the most recent FBI statistics -- and repeats falsehoods about his loss in the 2020 election.

President Joe Biden's campaign and his Democratic allies pounced on the reported remark even as Wisconsin Republicans contested how it was being interpreted. Biden posted a photo on the X social platform of himself greeting the Milwaukee Bucks after their 2021 NBA championship with the message: "I happen to love Milwaukee."

Milwaukee is hosting the Republican National Convention starting July 15 and is the largest Democratic stronghold in swing-state Wisconsin.

Trump is scheduled to be in Racine, Wisconsin, for a campaign rally on Tuesday, just three weeks before heading to Milwaukee for the convention.

Republican U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden, who represents western Wisconsin, said Trump was talking about the "terrible or horrible" crime rate in the city.

"He was directly referring to crime in Milwaukee," said Van Orden, who told The Associated Press he was sitting just feet from the former president.

He said Republicans in the room concurred. "They're like, yeah, crime is terrible."

U.S. Reps. Glenn Grothman and Scott Fitzgerald, also both of Wisconsin, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Trump was referring to the upcoming election.

But Republican U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, who represents southeast Wisconsin, disputed that Trump made the comment.

"I was in the room," Steil posted on X. "President Trump did not say this. There is no better place than Wisconsin in July."

And Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, who represents northern Wisconsin, said he never heard Trump call Milwaukee a "horrible city."

"What I heard is to make sure there's election integrity in Milwaukee," Tiffany said in a telephone interview. "He's talking about the states that are in play and the states of greatest importance and Wisconsin is top of the list."

A Trump aide and two attorneys who advised him in 2020 were charged with felonies last week in Wisconsin for their roles in a scheme to get Republicans to cast Wisconsin's electoral ballots to Trump even though he lost the state.

Government and outside investigations have uniformly found there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could have swung the 2020 election. But Trump has continued to spread falsehoods about the election, particularly in Wisconsin.

Republican Rep. Jim Banks, of Indiana, said he was also in the room and "Trump never disparaged Milwaukee."

"Just another Democrat hoax," Banks posted on X.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, when asked about Trump's reported remarks, said at a news conference, "If Donald Trump wants to talk about things that he thinks are horrible, all of us lived through his presidency, so right back at you buddy."

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, a Democrat who represents and lives in Milwaukee, made a nod to Trump's recent felony convictions in her response. Trump is scheduled to be sentenced in New York on July 11, days before the convention opens.

"Once he's settled in with his parole officer, I am certain he will discover that Milwaukee is a wonderful, vibrant and welcoming city full of diverse neighborhoods and a thriving business community," Moore posted on X.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who is up for reelection this year, said on X that Milwaukee is "part of what makes Wisconsin the best state in the nation. Donald Trump wouldn't understand even if a jury told him so." She used the Trump comment in a fundraising plea hours after it was first reported.

Local and statewide Democratic leaders, including Gov. Tony Evers, worked with Republicans to land the convention this summer.

Evers, in response to Trump's comment, posted on X: "Add it to the list of things Donald Trump is wrong about." He followed it with an emoji of a clown face.

Milwaukee was supposed to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention, but that was moved almost entirely online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several congressmen who support Trump and attended the meeting argued he was referring to crime and voter fraud. Trump frequently denounces Democratic-led cities as unsafe -- even as violent crime decreased nationally in the most recent FBI statistics -- and repeats falsehoods about his loss in the 2020 election.

President Joe Biden's campaign and his Democratic allies pounced on the reported remark even as Wisconsin Republicans contested how it was being interpreted. Biden posted a photo on the X social platform of himself greeting the Milwaukee Bucks after their 2021 NBA championship with the message: "I happen to love Milwaukee."

Milwaukee is hosting the Republican National Convention starting July 15 and is the largest Democratic stronghold in swing-state Wisconsin.

Trump is scheduled to be in Racine, Wisconsin, for a campaign rally on Tuesday, just three weeks before heading to Milwaukee for the convention.

Republican U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden, who represents western Wisconsin, said Trump was talking about the "terrible or horrible" crime rate in the city.

"He was directly referring to crime in Milwaukee," said Van Orden, who told The Associated Press he was sitting just feet from the former president.

He said Republicans in the room concurred. "They're like, yeah, crime is terrible."

U.S. Reps. Glenn Grothman and Scott Fitzgerald, also both of Wisconsin, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Trump was referring to the upcoming election.

But Republican U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, who represents southeast Wisconsin, disputed that Trump made the comment.

"I was in the room," Steil posted on X. "President Trump did not say this. There is no better place than Wisconsin in July."

And Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, who represents northern Wisconsin, said he never heard Trump call Milwaukee a "horrible city."

"What I heard is to make sure there's election integrity in Milwaukee," Tiffany said in a telephone interview. "He's talking about the states that are in play and the states of greatest importance and Wisconsin is top of the list."

A Trump aide and two attorneys who advised him in 2020 were charged with felonies last week in Wisconsin for their roles in a scheme to get Republicans to cast Wisconsin's electoral ballots to Trump even though he lost the state.

Government and outside investigations have uniformly found there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could have swung the 2020 election. But Trump has continued to spread falsehoods about the election, particularly in Wisconsin.

Republican Rep. Jim Banks, of Indiana, said he was also in the room and "Trump never disparaged Milwaukee."

"Just another Democrat hoax," Banks posted on X.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, when asked about Trump's reported remarks, said at a news conference, "If Donald Trump wants to talk about things that he thinks are horrible, all of us lived through his presidency, so right back at you buddy."

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, a Democrat who represents and lives in Milwaukee, made a nod to Trump's recent felony convictions in her response. Trump is scheduled to be sentenced in New York on July 11, days before the convention opens.

"Once he's settled in with his parole officer, I am certain he will discover that Milwaukee is a wonderful, vibrant and welcoming city full of diverse neighborhoods and a thriving business community," Moore posted on X.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who is up for reelection this year, said on X that Milwaukee is "part of what makes Wisconsin the best state in the nation. Donald Trump wouldn't understand even if a jury told him so." She used the Trump comment in a fundraising plea hours after it was first reported.

Local and statewide Democratic leaders, including Gov. Tony Evers, worked with Republicans to land the convention this summer.

Evers, in response to Trump's comment, posted on X: "Add it to the list of things Donald Trump is wrong about." He followed it with an emoji of a clown face.

Milwaukee was supposed to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention, but that was moved almost entirely online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adding to the complexity of Trump's visit, local law enforcement is preparing for potential protests and heightened security measures in response to not only his scheduled appearances but also the significant number of high-profile figures expected for the Republican National Convention. This comes amidst a charged political climate in Wisconsin, a state highly regarded as a critical battleground in presidential elections.

Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman stated that the city's law enforcement agencies are coordinating closely with federal partners to ensure the safety and security of all events. "Our goal is to maintain a peaceful and safe environment for all residents and visitors," Norman said at a press briefing. He also noted that the city's police force has been undergoing extensive training in crowd management and de-escalation techniques.

Political analysts suggest that Trump's focus on crime in Democratic-led cities is part of a broader strategy to galvanize his base and sway undecided voters by portraying those areas as examples of leadership failures. According to a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, "By pointing to incidents of crime, no matter how selectively, Trump is trying to paint a picture of chaos under Democratic leadership, which he believes will resonate with some voters."

The scrutiny of the 2020 election results continues to weigh heavily on the political landscape in Wisconsin. Republican state lawmakers have been pushing for reforms and audits despite multiple investigations validating the integrity of the election. These efforts have raised concerns among voting rights advocates who argue that such measures may suppress voter turnout, particularly in urban areas like Milwaukee.

"The constant questioning of election integrity without substantiated evidence undermines public trust in our democratic processes," said a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Election Commission. "It's crucial that we focus on enhancing voter access and education rather than perpetuating unfounded claims."

While Trump's visit and the upcoming Republican National Convention are seen as opportunities to energize his supporters, they also provide a stage for Democrats to highlight their counter-narrative. Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison noted, "Milwaukee is not just a backdrop for our political discourse; it's a testament to the strength and diversity of our nation. We should celebrate it, not disparage it."

The city's preparation for these significant political events reflects its importance in the national political arena. Whether Trump's remarks will have a lasting impact on his campaign or affect Wisconsin's political climate remains to be seen. However, what is clear is that Milwaukee will play a pivotal role in the unfolding political drama leading up to the 2024 presidential election.

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