Protesters at President Donald Trump rally in Phoenix clash with police

Trump steps from Air Force One in Maryland

Trump steps from Air Force One as he arrives in Morristown Thomson Reuters

There are roughly 14 groups reportedly planning to protest at President Donald Trump's rally in Phoenix on Tuesday - but there are also plans for a counter-protest.

Phoenix police fired pepper balls and smoke bombs to disperse protesters as Trump supporters were leaving the rally. Officials in Phoenix are bracing for large-scale demonstrations as Trump opponents and supporters converge on the city's downtown for the president's appearance Tuesday night.

Mr Trump tweeted following the campaign event: "Thank you Arizona".

The US President says the media falsely reported that he didn't condemn the neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville. "We'll have to see if and when it occurs in the future".

He added: "You are honest, hard working, tax-paying - by the way you are over taxed but we're going to get your taxes down.it's time to expose the crooked media deceptions and to challenge the media for their role in fomenting divisions".

A different Republican Arizona lawmaker has already learned what can happen to your base if you appear critical of Trump. Facing questions from reporters at the time, the president largely doubled down on his original address, assigning "blame" for the incident to "both sides".

Before the rally, thousands of protesters lined the streets outside the Phoenix Convention Center, leading police to cordon them off across the street as supporters entered into the venue.

Republican President Donald Trump's first political event since the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia has drawn several protest groups to Phoenix, and authorities are taking extra precautions to keep the peace.

The president began his Arizona visit with a brief trip to the southern edge of the country.

It is hard to say how many people on either side have turned out for Trump's first political rally since the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month.

The US president also hinted again that he might consider pardoning Joe Arpaio, a controversial former sheriff convicted last month of criminal contempt in a racial profiling case.

Of course that could all change if President Trump grants a pardon to the former sheriff.

Trump touched on popular points from the campaign trail, such as renegotiating NAFTA, building a border wall and fighting illegal immigration, bringing back jobs to struggling American workers, "draining the swamp" in D.C. and tax reform.

"I'll make a prediction". "I think he's going to be just fine".

"They don't want to report that I spoke out forecefully against bigotry, hatred and violence".

The president further issued veiled complaints about the decision of Arizona Sen. John McCain, who was the deciding vote against a "skinny repeal" plan a few weeks ago and whose opposition halted the repeal-and-replace effort for now. "Very presidential, isn't it". Jeff Flake who is facing re-election next year.

Then, he moved on to Flake, saying: "Nobody wants me to talk about him".

Trump called another unnamed senator "weak on borders, weak on crime". "It's embarrassing. Everything about him repulses me, and the fact that people are still coming to support him after the racism that's so blatant. Who knows", Arpaio said in a phone interview with NBC News. "And now, we haven't mentioned any names, so now, everybody's happy".

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