Upton: ‘It didn’t make sense’ to attend Trump rally

By: - April 3, 2019 6:34 am

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton | Andrew Roth

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) got a last-minute invite to President Trump’s rally in Grand Rapids last week, but he already had plans.

The longtime Republican congressman declined the invitation to participate, he said, because it didn’t fit with his hectic schedule, he told the Michigan Advance in an interview Tuesday.

“It was not my district. None of us were invited on the plane. There was a fundraiser after they landed; none of us were invited to that,” Upton said.

The congressman had a big event scheduled at the other end of his 6th District that night, and he was due to be the keynote speaker at a Farm Bureau breakfast early the next morning “a couple counties away from Grand Rapids.” His car, he added, was in Kalamazoo.

“I voted against cloning,” Upton quipped.

“Some people would like me to be in the same place at the same time, but with all those different factors, knowing that we were invited literally the day before, I think, for the event, it didn’t make sense.”

Three other Michigan Republican congressmen did attend the rally with the president: U.S. Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland), John Moolenaar (R-Midland) and Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet).

Upton recently broke with Trump on one of the president’s top policy priorities — securing billions of dollars in funding for a U.S. border wall. Upton was among the 13 House Republicans who voted last month to approve a resolution that would block Trump’s national emergency declaration, an effort to secure the funding without congressional approval.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Twp.), who represents Grand Rapids, also endorsed the Democratic-led effort to halt the emergency declaration. He also appears to have skipped the Trump rally in his own district. And Amash has repeatedly flirted with running against Trump in 2020 — although that didn’t come up in a town hall meeting he held last month.

But Upton — a moderate Republican who’s a top target for Democrats in 2020 — doesn’t appear to be seeking quite that much distance from his party’s leader.

Upton applauded Trump’s “big win” following the release of Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Asked whether he needs Trump to win Michigan to boost him across the finish line, Upton said, “I’ve run well ahead of every Republican nominee for president, whether they be the incumbent president, or whether they be a candidate for president.”

He added, “I’m not worried. We work hard.”

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Robin Bravender
Robin Bravender

Robin Bravender was the States Newsroom Washington Bureau Chief from January 2019 until June 2020. She coordinated the network’s national coverage and reported on states’ congressional delegations, federal agencies, the White House and the federal courts. Prior to that, Robin was an editor and reporter at E&E News, a reporter at Politico, and a freelance producer for Reuters TV.