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Trump arrives in Arizona to rally supporters

Update: August, 23/2017 - 11:00
Demonstrators gather outside the Phoenix, Arizona, Convention Center where US President Donald Trump will be speaking at a "Make America Great Again" rally on Tuesday. — AFP/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

PHOENIX  President Donald Trump arrived in Arizona on Tuesday hoping to re-energise core supporters cooling to his crisis-riddled presidency and build momentum for a controversial border wall.

Trump began the trip in Yuma by touring a US Border Patrol operations base, where he chatted with border agents. He then traveled to Phoenix for a raucous campaign-style rally in the evening.

The rally -- which typically features a stem-winding Trump speech -- will be the first of its kind since he sparked outrage by equivocating in his condemnation of a deadly neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

But the White House hopes this trip to Arizona can get the Trump train back on track.

His visit aims to tout the benefits of a border fence, turn up the heat on reluctant allies and demonstrate the president’s determination to realise a central campaign pledge.

Speculation is building that Trump may use the Phoenix rally to formally endorse a challenger to incumbent moderate Republican Senator Jeff Flake.

That action would be a shot across the bow of sceptical Republicans and a message to far-right supporters.

Despite rumors, Trump looks set to shy away from issuing a pardon for Joe Arpaio -- a former sheriff in Arizona who was convicted of willfully violating a court order to stop targeting Hispanics in immigration roundups.

"There will be no discussion of that today at any point and no action will be taken on that front at any point today," said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

 ’Oppose Nazis’

Around 5,000 people lined up under a blistering sun in Phoenix hours before Trump’s arrival, many wearing the stars and stripes, hoping to get into the conference centre where he was due to speak at 7pm (0200 GMT).

Facing a line of supporters stretching several hundred yards (meters), opponents of the president brandished placards including some that depicted him with a Hitler mustache.

"Things to do today: laundry, put out trash, oppose Nazis," said one sign.

A demonstrator in an "Obama 2008" campaign t-shirt shouted, "Trump hates" while the president’s fans replied by chanting, "Build that wall."

Dale Clinton, 64, a Hawaiian visiting friends, said he had been waiting five hours to glimpse Trump.

"I believe the media is against him, the Democrats are against him, some members of his own party are against him, so I’m here to say I stand by your policies," he said.

"Health care is first for me, it should be the very first for everybody. Taxes is next."

A series of demonstrations backing immigrants and denouncing racism were planned in the centre of Phoenix, a Democratic enclave in a state Trump narrowly won in the election.

In front of a church, a small group of "cosplayers" in Wonder Woman, Disney princess and other costumes were due to demonstrate.

"When Nazis are comfortable marching on the streets with fire, and with what happened after Charlottesville, I didn’t want to sit at home and do nothing," said organiser Anabel Martinez.  AFP

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