Trump to speak to Guard lead­ers in city Mon­day

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By John Fritze

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump will come to Bal­ti­more on Mon­day to ad­dress Na­tional Guard lead­ers as he wres­tles with the fall­out from re­cent re­marks he has made about U.S. mil­i­tary lead­ers and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Trump is sched­uled to speak to the Na­tional Guard As­so­ci­a­tion of the United States, which is hold­ing its an­nual con­fer­ence at the In­ner Har­bor, at a time when na­tional se­cu­rity has be­come a cen­tral is­sue in the race.

The visit, Trump’s first to Bal­ti­more as the nom­i­nee, comes as he faces crit­i­cism from Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton for in­sist­ing that Putin has been a stronger leader than Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and as­sert­ing that Amer­ica’s mil­i­tary lead­er­ship has been “re­duced to rub­ble.”

Mary­land leans heav­ily Demo­cratic in na­tional elec­tions, and so Trump’s de­ci­sion to spend time here rather than in a

bat­tle­ground state is un­usual. A poll re­leased Mon­day by An­napo­lis-based Opin­ion Works found the Repub­li­can trail­ing Clin­ton in the state by 29 points. Trump has gained ground re­cently in polls na­tion­ally and in key swing states. “It’s a tough bat­tle for Mary­land, no ques­tion about it,” said state Del. Pat McDonough, a Bal­ti­more County Repub­li­can run­ning for Congress in a district he be­lieves will sup­port Trump. But “our district is great for Trump, [and] I’m very ex­cited about him com­ing.” A Mary­land Repub­li­can prob­a­bly not as ex­cited about the visit is Gov. Larry Ho­gan. The gov­er­nor, whose pop­u­lar­ity is soar­ing, has said he will not sup­port Trump in Novem­ber. An aide said the gov­er­nor will speak to the Na­tional Guard As­so­ci­a­tion but has no plans to ap­pear along­side the GOP nom­i­nee. An aide to Del. Kathy Szeliga, the GOP nom­i­nee for Mary­land’s open Se­nate seat, de­clined to say whether the can­di­date would ap­pear with Trump on Mon­day. Rep. Andy Har­ris of Bal­ti­more County, the sole Repub­li­can in the state’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion, has a sched­ul­ing con­flict, a spokes­woman said. Both Szeliga and Har­ris have said they will sup­port Trump, who won Mary­land’s Repub­li­can pri­mary on April 26 with 54 per­cent of the vote. The Na­tional Guard con­fer­ence, which is not open to the pub­lic, has hosted at least one pres­i­den­tial can­di­date ev­ery elec­tion year since 1992, a spokesman said. In that sense, Trump’s ap­pear­ance is not about Mary­land per se but rather about speak­ing to a na­tional au­di­ence. The group, which has 45,000 mem­bers, said it in­vited both Trump and Clin­ton. “We are par­tic­i­pants in democ­racy as well as de­fend­ers of democ­racy,” said the as­so­ci­a­tion’s pres­i­dent, re­tired Maj. Gen. Gus Har­gett. “So, in both roles, we are cu­ri­ous to hear Mr. Trump’s vi­sion for na­tional de­fense and how the Na­tional Guard fits into those plans,” he said in a state­ment. Trump has had a com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship with the mil­i­tary. His cam­paign an­nounced en­dorse­ments this week from 88 re­tired gen­er­als and ad­mi­rals, all of whom signed a let­ter call­ing for a “course cor­rec­tion” in U.S. de­fense pol­icy. That change, they wrote, can be made only by some­one who is not “sub­stan­tially re­spon­si­ble for the hol­low­ing out of our mil­i­tary and the bur­geon­ing threats fac­ing our coun­try around theworld.” But Trump has faced crit­i­cism from fel­low Repub­li­cans through­out his cam­paign on mil­i­tary is­sues, such as when he ques­tioned the hero­ism of Sen. John McCain. The Naval Academy grad­u­ate was shot down over Viet­nam, held cap­tive for more than five years and tor­tured. Early in his cap­tiv­ity, the Viet Cong learned he was the son of an ad­mi­ral and of­fered to re­lease him. He re­fused, say­ing he would not ac­cept the of­fer un­less the Amer­i­cans who were cap­tured be­fore him were also freed. Clin­ton’s cam­paign, mean­while, is air­ing a tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tise­ment that calls at­ten­tion to Trump’s claim that he knows “more about ISIS than the gen­er­als do, be­lieve me.” The most re­cent flap in­volves Trump’s as­ser­tion dur­ing a tele­vised fo­rum Wed­nes­day that Putin has been a stronger leader than Obama. Trump ap­peared on a Krem­lin-backed tele­vi­sion sta­tion the next day and said it was “prob­a­bly un­likely” that Rus­sia was in­volved with high-pro­file com­puter at­tacks on the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee and state elec­tion sys­tems. That’s not the as­sess­ment of pri­vate an­a­lysts, who say there is ev­i­dence that the at­tacks were car­ried out by Rus­sian groups. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has cited those as­sess­ments, but has not it­self of­fi­cially blamed Rus­sia for the hacks. Trump has also ques­tioned the state of U.S. mil­i­tary lead­er­ship. “Un­der the lead­er­ship of Barack Obama and Hil­lary Clin­ton, the gen­er­als have been re­duced to rub­ble,” he said Wed­nes­day. “They have been re­duced to a point where it’s em­bar­rass­ing for our coun­try.” The as­ser­tions have drawn re­buke from fel­low Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has en­dorsed Trump. “Vladimir Putin is an ag­gres­sor that does not share our in­ter­ests,” Ryan said Thurs­day. Ryan said it “cer­tainly ap­pears that [Putin] is con­duct­ing ... state-spon­sored cy­ber­at­tacks on what ap­pears to be our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem.” Democrats in Mary­land were no­tably muted about Trump’s visit. The Mary­land Demo­cratic Party did not re­spond to sev­eral re­quests for com­ment and fo­cused its so­cial me­dia ef­fort Fri­day on Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walker’s ap­pear­ance at a state Repub­li­can Party fundraiser in Glen Burnie. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Demo­crat, said he ap­pre­ci­ates pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates com­ing to Mary­land to give vot­ers a chance to see the race up close. “My prob­lem is not with the visit,” Cardin said. “My prob­lem is with his poli­cies.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.