Big protests expected as Trump plans Phoenix rally

WASHINGTON(Reuters) - Large protests could greet President Donald Trump on Tuesday when he travels to Arizona for his first campaign rally since he caused an uproar with his remarks about a white nationalist demonstration in Virginia.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, asked the Republican president to postpone Tuesday's event scheduled for 7 p.m. MST (0200 GMT on Wednesday) in light of his response to the street battles that broke out earlier this month at a protest against the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville.

Trump was widely criticized for blaming both white nationalists and counter-protesters for the violence at the rally organized by neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

RELATED: A look back at Charlottesvillle

19 PHOTOS
White nationalist protesters lead 'Nazi-esque' rally in Charlottesville
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White nationalist protesters lead 'Nazi-esque' rally in Charlottesville
Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Protesters direct obscene gestures towards members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in support of Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Counter-protesters shout at members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Members of the Ku Klux Klan face counter-protesters as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A counter-protester is detained as members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police detain a counter-protester during the aftermath of a rally by members of the Ku Klux Klan in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters lock arms in the middle of a street as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police, clergy and free speech observers protect a man wearing a Confederate flag as a cape after he was surrounded by counter-protesters prior to the arrival of members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters help a man affected by pepper gas as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police, clergy and free speech observers protect a man wearing a Confederate flag as a cape after he was surrounded by counter-protesters prior to the arrival of members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Counter-protesters lock arms in the middle of a street as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, such as the statue of General Stonewall Jackson above them, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan, standing near a tomato and and an orange that had been thrown at them by counter-protesters, hold a sign as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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"America is hurting. And it is hurting largely because Trump has doused racial tensions with gasoline," Stanton wrote in the Washington Post. "With his planned visit to Phoenix on Tuesday, I fear the president may be looking to light a match."

Several anti-Trump demonstrations are planned for Phoenix, according to social media postings by local activists.

Some White House officials privately expressed concern on Monday about Trump's Phoenix rally, fearing he might revisit the Charlottesville issue in the heat of the moment while cheered on by thousands of supporters.

It will be Trump's first trip as president to Arizona, which he won in the 2016 election. He will also visit a border protection facility in Yuma, Arizona, along the U.S.-Mexican border as he seeks congressional funding for the wall he wants built..

While in Yuma, Trump will view equipment used to secure the border and attend a briefing on border protection, the White House said.

Department of Homeland Security officials told reporters on Tuesday that Yuma was an example of how adding barriers at the border could lower unlawful immigration. The area has seen an 82 percent decrease in illegal entries since 2007 after a fence was installed.

Republican Governor Doug Ducey told the Arizona Republic on Monday that he would welcome Trump on the tarmac when he arrived but would not attend the campaign rally.

Trump has clashed with Arizona's two Republican U.S. senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, on various issues. Both lawmakers are critics of the president.

Trump said earlier this month that he was considering pardoning Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff found guilty of criminal contempt for violating the terms of a 2011 court order in a racial profiling case.

RELATED: A look at a recent Trump rally in Ohio

14 PHOTOS
Melania Trump, President Trump at Ohio rally
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Melania Trump, President Trump at Ohio rally
US President Donald Trump kisses First Lady Melania Trump during a Make America Great Again rally at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, July 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump kisses first lady Melania Trump after she introduced him at a rally with supporters in an arena in Youngstown, Ohio, U.S. July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump take the stage for a rally with supporters in an arena in Youngstown, Ohio, U.S. July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. first lady Melania Trump (C) takes her seat after introducing her husband President Donald Trump at a rally with supporters in an arena in Youngstown, Ohio, U.S. July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House advisor Omarosa Manigault (L), Eric Trump (2nd R) and his wife Lara Trump (2nd L) and first lady Melania Trump take their seats at the side of the stage as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a rally with supporters in an arena in Youngstown, Ohio, U.S. July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) walks with U.S. Air Force Colonel Casey Eaton (R) as he and first lady Melania Trump (L) board Air Force One for travel to Ohio from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) is introduced by first lady Melania at a rally with supporters in an arena in Youngstown, Ohio, U.S. July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
First Lady Melania Trump joins President Trump on-stage at President Trump's Make America Great Again Rally on July 25, 2017 in Youngstown, OH. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
YOUNGSTOWN, OH - JULY 25: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump embrace after a rally at the Covelli Centre on July 25, 2017 in Youngstown, Ohio. The rally coincides with the Senates vote on GOP legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for a 'Make America Great Again' rally at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, July 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for a 'Make America Great Again' rally at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, July 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
YOUNGSTOWN, OH - JULY 25: First lady Melania Trump, Eric Trump and his wife Lara Yunaska listen as U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a rally at the Covelli Centre on July 25, 2017 in Youngstown, Ohio. The rally coincides with the Senates vote on GOP legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 25: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump cross the South Lawn after arriving at the White House July 25, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The Trumps were returning from a rally in Ohio. (Photo by Zach Gibson-Pool/Getty Images)
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