NEW YORK — Donald Trump is visiting Flint, Michigan on Wednesday to condemn the government failure which led to that city’s water crisis — though the city’s mayor doesn’t want him there.
Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, is making his first visit to the poverty-stricken city since lead was detected in its water supply in April 2014. He is expected to visit a water plant and a church while denouncing the crisis that affected 100,000 people after the city left Detroit’s water supply and started using improperly treated Flint River water.
Trump’s visit to Flint, like his one last month to flood-stricken Louisiana, is bound to produce images aimed at persuading Americans that the celebrity businessman can appear presidential. It also highlights his aims to compete in the industrial Midwest, thought polls have him down in Michigan, which last went Republican in 1988.
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, a Democrat, condemned the visit, saying the campaign had not offered to help the city and his visit would be a distraction.
“Flint is focused on fixing the problems caused by lead contamination of our drinking water, not photo ops,” said Weaver, who supports Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent. Clinton visited Flint in February.
Flint was under state control in 2014 and Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, a Republican, has come under scrutiny for his handling of the crisis. Trump has declared Flint’s water problems “a horror show” and said “this is a situation that would have never happened if I were president.”
The visit to Flint, where most residents are African-American, comes as Trump has increased his outreach to minorities. He has argued that Democratic policies have left inner cities impoverished and dangerous and has taken to asking voters of color “What have you got to lose?” in voting for him.
Critics say Trump paints an overly bleak picture of life in urban African-American communities, where crime has fallen and the life expectancy has risen in recent decades. Some black leaders have also suggested that Trump’s outreach to minorities is mostly about proving to undecided white voters that he’s not racist.
Weaver said she would be in Washington on Wednesday to lobby for federal aid. After months of Republican resistance, the Senate is moving ahead on a $10 billion water projects bill that includes $220 million in emergency funding for Flint and other communities beset by lead-contaminated water.
Meanwhile, Trump is also slated on Wednesday to record an episode of “The Dr. Oz Show.” He is expected to be asked about his health, but won’t release detailed medical records on the show, his campaign said.
The celebrity businessman is also slated to hold a rally Wednesday night in the battleground state of Ohio — and tour the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
Clinton remained in her suburban New York home Wednesday as she continues to recover from pneumonia. She is expected to return to the campaign trail on Thursday. Next week, she plans to meet with foreign leaders next week at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, her campaign said Wednesday.
Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed from Washington.