White House denies protests prompted Trump to cancel Milwaukee visit

President Trump canceled an expected speech on the economy in Milwaukee on Thursday, but said that the anti-Trump protests were not the reason for the change in plans.

Bill Glauber/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel/AP
Demonstrators gather outside the federal courthouse in Milwaukee on Saturday to protest the executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Friday that bans immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

Donald Trump's first scheduled visit outside of Washington since taking office has been cancelled. 

The president had originally been set to give a speech and meet with business leaders on his trip to Milwaukee, a visit that was rumored to have included a stop at a Harley-Davidson factory. Plans for a thousands-strong protest unnerved the motorcycle maker, and Trump's trip is now off, but a White House spokeswoman says that the change in plans is unrelated. 

"Due to scheduling, the leadership he was potentially traveling to meet with is now coming here," said deputy press secretary Stephanie Grisham.

No public announcement of the visit had been made, but White House staffers were already at Harley-Davidson preparing for the Thursday visit when the company decided it wasn't comfortable hosting him, according to CNN. The president reportedly planned to sign executive orders related to American manufacturing, but it was growing plans of protest that made the company uneasy. 

A group called the Milwaukee Coalition Against Trump organized an event on Facebook that claimed 1,200 attendees with another 4,500 "interested," as of Tuesday afternoon. 

Harley-Davidson said in a statement that they "don't have, nor did we have, a scheduled visit from the President this week at any of our facilities" and stressed that they would be proud to receive a visit from the Commander in Chief in the future. 

"We are proud to have hosted Presidential visits at our facilities. Three of the last five presidents – Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton – have visited us at our facilities. These visits are a testament to the pride and passion of our employees and their great work building Harley-Davidson motorcycles," said Maripat Blankenheim, director of Harley-Davidson's corporate communication. "We look forward to hosting the president in the future."

Neither the White House, nor the Governor's office has released a statement saying when, or if, Trump will reschedule. He previously stopped in Wisconsin last month as part of his "thank you" tour, expressing his gratitude to the battleground state, which hadn't voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984. He took the state by about 22,000 votes. 

Anti-Trump protests have marked the early days of the new administration, which provoked millions around the world to join women's marches the day after inauguration. Over the weekend, thousands assembled at airports across the country to oppose an executive order establishing a travel ban that targets seven Muslim majority countries, and a science march is in the works for Earth Day. 

Some Republicans joined the Democrats in criticizing the travel ban, calling it counterproductive to protecting the US from terrorism. 

Gov. Scott Walker, who ran against Trump for the presidential nomination, visited the White House on Saturday. He is close with chief of staff Reince Priebus, who formerly headed the Wisconsin Republican Party. 

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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