President Trump is reportedly making plans to attend the college football national championship game between the University of Georgia and the University of Alabama on Monday night in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday that local law enforcement is working with the Secret Service to prepare for Trump's arrival at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. First lady Melania Trump also is expected to attend the game. A White House official did not contest the report, although the plans have not been finalized.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders opened the daily briefing by offering Trump's congratulations to the two teams for their semifinal victories. Both schools, she noted, are “in the heart of Trump country.”
Republican Donald Trump won Alabama by 30 points and Georgia by 5 over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the last presidential election. But Trump experienced an embarrassing political defeat last month when Republican Roy Moore, whom the president had endorsed, lost to Democrat Doug Jones in the U.S. Senate race in Alabama. Jones was sworn into office Wednesday.
The Atlanta newspaper reported that Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Pence, who hails from Georgia, would attend the game with the Trumps.
Since taking office, Trump has not attended any college sports events and, aside from visits to two professional golf tournaments, has not watched professional games in person. In October, Pence walked out of an NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers after some 49ers took a knee during the national anthem as part of an ongoing protest over police brutality.
Trump has railed against the NFL and the players who have protested, calling their act an insult to the country.