Trump Wasn’t Going to Stay in Milwaukee for the Republican Convention

When Republicans gather in Milwaukee next month to nominate him for president, Donald J. Trump planned to stay not in the convention’s host city but at a Trump hotel in Chicago, some 90 miles away, according to three people briefed on the former president’s logistics.

That changed midafternoon on Tuesday, after reporters for The Times and an ABC affiliate in Chicago contacted his campaign for comment.

Mr. Trump now intends to stay in Milwaukee, two of the people briefed on his logistics said. The change avoids a perceived slight to the largest city in Wisconsin, a vital battleground state.

Mr. Trump has been on the defensive about his views on Milwaukee since news outlets reported last week that he called it a “horrible” city in a private meeting with House Republicans in Washington.

Following that report, a Trump campaign spokesman, Steven Cheung, pushed back but added that Mr. Trump had denounced “how terrible crime and voter fraud are” in Milwaukee, reviving his false claims of voter fraud there in 2020.

And Mr. Trump offered a similar explanation hours later to a Fox News reporter, saying, “I love Milwaukee. I have great friends in Milwaukee” while repeating his complaints about crime and nonexistent voter fraud.

The initial decision for Mr. Trump to overnight at the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago was made partly because of his own preference and partly because of security and logistics concerns, according to one of the people with knowledge of the Chicago plan, all of whom insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive planning arrangements.

Mr. Trump has over the years generally preferred to sleep at his own properties while campaigning, and in his 2016 run for president, he sometimes flew hundreds of miles to sleep in his own bed. It also remains possible that Mr. Trump’s plans could change again before the convention starts on July 14.

Alexi Worley, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service, directed questions about Mr. Trump’s lodging to the Republican National Committee. In a statement, she said that the Secret Service would work closely “with law enforcement and public safety partners to adapt security plans as required” to ensure a comprehensive security plan is in place for the convention.

Mr. Trump’s choice to stay in Chicago would have been all but certain to play into Democratic attacks on Mr. Trump.

After his comments in Washington, the Democratic National Committee put up 10 billboards around Milwaukee to draw attention to Mr. Trump’s remarks. On Saturday, Mr. Trump denied saying Milwaukee was a “horrible city” in a social media post in which he took credit for choosing it as the convention host.

“I picked Milwaukee, I know it well. It should therefore lead to my winning Wisconsin,” he wrote. And, he added, “Who would say such a thing with that important State in the balance?”

Mr. Trump, who was in Wisconsin on Tuesday for an afternoon rally in Racine, lost the state to President Biden by roughly 20,000 votes in 2020, an outcome fueled in part by suburban Milwaukee voters shifting their support to Mr. Biden. The state, which Mr. Trump won in 2016, has been a critical focus of both the Trump and Biden campaigns.

Mr. Trump continues to maintain falsely that voting in Milwaukee, a solidly Democratic city, was rife with fraud, even as a nonpartisan audit found no evidence to support the claim.

He also criticized Milwaukee during the 2020 campaign, calling it politically corrupt and citing it as an example of urban decay and violence that he said were out of control, as he appealed for support to white suburbanites.

Mr. Trump has made similar comments about Chicago, where Democrats will host their convention in August. His tower in Chicago, a skyscraper shooting up 92 stories above the city that opened in 2009, was his last major construction project.

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