“I’m asking the President to rethink his trip. It sends a bad, bad message to the citizens of Baltimore because I’m asking them to stay home and only come out for essential reasons,” Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young told CNN’s “Inside Politics” on Friday.
The White House confirmed to CNN that the President and first lady Melania Trump are still slated to visit Baltimore’s Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine on Monday “to honor the American heroes who have sacrificed their lives serving in the US Armed Forces.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley are also expected to attend.
Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s office has said he’s celebrating his birthday at home on Monday and won’t be attending the President’s visit to the site.
The raising of the American flag at the fort during the War of 1812, which signaled American victory over the British in the Battle of Baltimore, was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Trump’s visit to Maryland comes as he’s geared up for more travel in recent weeks — part of his larger push to encourage states to reopen and ease restrictions related to the coronavirus. Maryland has begun to ease some social distancing restrictions.
White House spokesperson Judd Deere said in a statement regarding pushback on the visit, “The brave men and women who have preserved our freedoms for generations did not stay home and the President will not either as he honors their sacrifice by visiting such a historic landmark in our Nation’s history.”
Young argued Friday that it wouldn’t make sense for Trump to come to a city currently barring gatherings of more than 10 people when his entourage is sure to be larger than that. He also said the White House did not give the mayor’s office a heads-up to prepare for the visit and that it was the second time the White House has done that.
Trump’s last visit to Baltimore, in the fall of 2019, came a few months after he tweeted that the city was a “rat and rodent infested mess.” He’s said he doesn’t regret the comments.
“We have a President coming to a city that he just degraded over a year ago, and I just want him to set the example for the rest of the country and not do this trip because it’s not essential,” Young told CNN.
The President has previously marked Memorial Days at Arlington National Cemetery. Last year, he observed Memorial Day with service members aboard an American aircraft carrier in Japan.