Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump kept a promise Wednesday to visit Flint. But he was not greeted warmly in a city that’s struggling with a water crisis caused by government dysfunction.
Trump toured Flint’s water treatment plant and then traveled to an inner city church.
Trump tried to deliver an address from prepared remarks, where he said he was the person to fix Flint’s water crisis and economic troubles.
“We can fix this problem. It’s going to take time,” he said. “It’s amazing the damage that’s been done, but we’ll get it fixed, and it will be fixed quickly – if I’m elected, but it will be fixed quickly and effectively and Flint will come back.”
But Trump was interrupted by questions from the small audience that seemed to throw him off. And, when he attacked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Pastor Faith-Green Timmons cut him off.
“She’s failed on foreign policy, everything she touched didn’t work out, nothing. Now Hillary Clinton,” said Trump.
“Mister Trump, I invited you here to thank us for helping Flint, not to give a political speech.”
“OK. That’s good,” responded a seemingly contrite Trump.
As he left, he waved to the small crowd gathered outside that jeered in return and waved signs for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
But Trump was not without supporters during his visit.
Demonstrators both for and against the Republican presidential candidate gathered along a highway near the Flint water plant as Trump was about to embark on his visit.
“Everything he stands for – making America great again,” said Robert Owens, who lives in the Flint suburb of Clio. He sported an NRA cap and waved a Trump sign at passing cars and trucks. He says Trump is the person to fix Flint and other struggling cities.
“These people are yelling they want Flint water better. Why not vote for someone who can do that?”
The pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators got into some heated arguments at times. The Trump critics said the visit is just a campaign stunt with two months to go before the election.
Leslie Wilson was wearing a “Flint Lives Matter” t-shirt and wore a string of empty plastic water bottles around her waist. She doesn’t think Trump really cares about the city’s water crisis, or helping Flint.
“Sixty days before the election, he’s obviously just trying to get a little publicity stunt, so he can get an extra couple of followers, an extra couple of people to vote for him,” she said. “That’s all it is.”
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton visited Flint and addressed a church congregation in February.