Democratic Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix has blasted President Donald Trump's campaign rally held in his city. Stanton asserted that Trump's speech during the rally was inflammatory and divisive.
On Aug. 22, Trump held a rally in Phoenix, where he spoke to a crowd of supporters for over an hour. The president touched on a series of controversial topics, from signaling that he would pardon former Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, suggesting that he would outright terminate NAFTA instead of renegotiating its terms, to pledging that he would oversee a government shutdown if he did not receive funding for a proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Aug. 23, Stanton stated during an interview that Trump's rally was unwelcome in the city and that he was disappointed by the president's rhetoric.
"It's very unfortunate what occurred last night with regard to the president's speech," Stanton told MSNBC. "To do a campaign rally here in Phoenix in which he openly talked about pardoning Sheriff Joe, and all that Sheriff Joe had done to terrorize Latino residents here locally. You put it all together, it just wasn't the right time for a speech like that."
During the rally, Trump hinted to his supporters that he was likely to issue a presidential pardon to Arpaio, who has been convicted of contempt of court for racially profiling Latino residents in Arizona's Maricopa County after he had been ordered to stop.
"Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe?" Trump asked the crowd, according to The Associated Press. "So, was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job? That's why ... I'll make a prediction. I think he's going to be just fine, OK?"
The president also blasted mainstream media outlets, accusing them of inaccurately covering his administration.
"They're bad people and I really think they don't like our country," Trump said of journalists who had been critical of him and his administration, reports Time. "And I don't believe they're going to change and that's why I do this ... These are sick people. You would think they want to make our country great again and I honestly believe they don't. If you want to discover the source of the division in our country, look no further than the fake news and the crooked media."
Stanton asserted that Trump's rhetoric and his potential pardon for Arpaio would deepen divisions across the country.
"Unfortunately, last night, the president gave a speech that did continue to divide this country," Stanton said. "He did nothing to unite this country, and did indicate he will be pardoning Sheriff Joe. He decided not to do it at the event last night, but made it clear he was planning on doing it. And that's a real tragedy for the people here in Phoenix."
Meanwhile, Trump took to social media to voice his satisfaction with how the rally went while also blasting Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who had been critical of him.
"Phoenix crowd last night was amazing -- a packed house," the president tweeted. "I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!"