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Arizona political leaders speak ahead of Trump’s rally in Phoenix

President Donald Trump claps as he walks across the South Lawn on his return to the White House in Washington, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

PHOENIX — President Donald Trump is coming to Phoenix for a campaign rally on Tuesday night, and local politicians are having mixed reactions to his visit.

Some politicians, including Jonathan Lines, chair of the Arizona Republican Party, are very excited to welcome Trump to Arizona, his first visit to the state as president.

“We are grateful to welcome the president back to Arizona,” Lines said. “He loves us and we love him. He feels revitalized when he visits because there are so many Trump supporters here in Arizona.”

Lines said he welcomed Trump to Arizona a few weeks ago and believes the president’s visit will help state Republicans get ready for the 2018 midterm election.

“We hope for a message of unity to bring people together to rally behind the president’s plan and everything that he’s put forward so that we can accomplish what he was elected to do and fulfill those commitments,” he added.

Rumors have been swirling ahead of Trump’s visit that he may pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of criminal contempt of court in July. Arpaio’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for October.

Lines said he doesn’t know whether Trump will pardon Arpaio and won’t speculate.

But Enrique Gutierrez, communications director for the Arizona Democratic Party, said he hopes Trump will not pardon Arpaio, who was one of the president’s most prominent supporters during the election.

“If the case is that he’s coming here to pardon Arpaio, we don’t need that,” he said. “We hope that Arpaio, for committing the crimes that he has, pays for the crimes.  No one’s above the law.”

Gutierrez said the party is hoping they don’t hear a message similar to what Trump delivered in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Three people were killed from violent clashes on Aug. 12, which sparked from a white nationalist rally that protested the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.

“It was basically racially-inflamed rhetoric that he used, and that is something that we don’t need here in Phoenix,” he added.

Both Lines and Gutierrez said they hope that any protests surrounding the Trump rally are peaceful.

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