House Repub­li­cans plan re­treat next month

GOP mem­bers will gather Sept. 12-14 at the Bal­ti­more Mar­riott Wa­ter­front Ho­tel

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Pamela Wood

Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans plan to hold a re­treat this fall in Bal­ti­more — af­ter Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump den­i­grated the city as a “dis­gust­ing, rat and ro­dent in­fested mess” and a “very dan­ger­ous & filthy place.”

GOP mem­bers of the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives will gather Sept. 12-14 at the Bal­ti­more Mar­riott Wa­ter­front Ho­tel in Har­bor East.

The event raises the prospect of Trump mak­ing his first visit to the city as pres­i­dent, be­cause the sit­ting pres­i­dent of­ten ad­dresses the gath­er­ing. It’s of­ten held in Bal­ti­more or West Vir­ginia, but the mem­bers of Congress also have met on the East­ern Shore and in Philadelph­ia.

Ali Pardo, a spokes­woman with the House Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence, said Bal­ti­more was se­lected ear­lier this year for the re­treat.

“We’re ex­cited to be there in Septem­ber to dis­cuss our agenda,” she said.

She de­clined to dis­cuss fur­ther de­tails, in­clud­ing whether the pres­i­dent is ex­pected to at­tend.

The White House would not com­ment on the pres­i­dent’s sched­ule.

Of­fi­cials with the non­profit Con­gres­sional In­sti­tute, which co-hosts the con­fer

ence, did not re­spond to re­quests for in­for­ma­tion. How­ever, a pri­vate com­mu­ni­ca­tions firm hired by the Con­gres­sional In­sti­tute sent a reg­is­tra­tion form Mon­day af­ter­noon for jour­nal­ists plan­ning to cover it.

Trump had harsh words for the city in a se­ries of tweets that be­gan July 27, and his crit­i­cism con­tin­ued for sev­eral days both on­line and in re­marks to re­porters and at a rally. Trump also blasted Demo­cratic U.S. Rep. Eli­jah Cum­mings of West Bal­ti­more, whose House Com­mit­tee on Over­sight and Re­form has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing the pres­i­dent, his fam­ily and his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Cum­mings has said he would be “happy” to have Trump visit Bal­ti­more. The Mar­riott ho­tel is just out­side Cum­mings’ dis­trict.

The Mar­riott’s gen­eral man­ager de­clined to dis­cuss the re­treat, say­ing do­ing so would vi­o­late the com­pany’s poli­cies aimed at pre­serv­ing guests’ pri­vacy.

Trump has vis­ited Bal­ti­more spar­ingly, at­tend­ing the Army-Navy foot­ball game at M&T Bank Sta­dium shortly af­ter he won the 2016 elec­tion. A few months be­fore that, can­di­date Trump spoke to the Na­tional Guard As­so­ci­a­tion of the United States, which held a con­fer­ence down­town. He then popped over to Dun­dalk in Bal­ti­more County for lunch at a diner with lo­cal politi­cians and sup­port­ers.

More re­cently, the pres­i­dent con­sid­ered vis­it­ing Bal­ti­more last De­cem­ber to dis­cuss ur­ban re­vi­tal­iza­tion at the in­vi­ta­tion of the Rev. Donte Hick­man, but the event was called off.

The 2019 House Repub­li­can re­treat was sched­uled orig­i­nally for late Jan­uary in West Vir­ginia, but it was post­poned due to a par­tial fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down at the time.

Trump spoke at the 2018 re­treat, which fea­tured House and Sen­ate mem­bers and was held at The Green­brier, a re­sort in White Sul­phur Springs, West Vir­ginia. That re­treat opened on a somber note, af­ter an Amtrak train car­ry­ing mem­bers of Congress to the re­treat col­lided with a garbage truck, killing a Vir­ginia man.

Trump also spoke at the 2017 Repub­li­can re­treat in Philadelph­ia.

House Repub­li­cans have held re­treats in Bal­ti­more be­fore, in­clud­ing in 2010, when Demo­cratic Pres­i­dent Barack Obama ad­dressed the gath­er­ing. The Repub­li­cans also gath­ered in Bal­ti­more in 2011, 2012 and 2016. Typ­i­cally, the events are held in late Jan­uary or early Fe­bru­ary.

Bal­ti­more of­fers Washington politi­cians a chance to get away from the in­side-the-Beltway po­lit­i­cal world — with­out hav­ing to travel too far. Bal­ti­more is a quick drive or train trip from Washington.

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