McCarthy: Trump traveling to Baltimore shows he cares about the city

BALTIMORE — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthy10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable Furious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble MORE (R-Calif.) defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE’s critical remarks about Baltimore ahead of the president's scheduled remarks at the House GOP retreat on Thursday, arguing his visit signals he cares about the city.

“I think the president coming here symbolizes that, yes, he cares about Baltimore, he cares about the people that live in Baltimore and he does not accept that you have to stay in poverty,” the House GOP leader told reporters at a press conference.

The president previously referred to the city as a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" in a July tweet while feuding with Democratic Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsCracks emerge in White House strategy as witness testifies Overnight Defense: Pentagon insists US hasn't abandoned Kurds | Trump expands sanctions authority against Turkey | Ex-Ukraine ambassador says Trump pushed for her ouster On The Money: Trump announces limited trade deal with China | Appeals court rules against Trump over financial records | Trump expands authority to sanction Turkey MORE (Md.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee who represents the area.

"If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place," Trump tweeted of Cummings at the time.

Cummings, whose panel has conducted sprawling investigations into Trump and his administration, later invited the president to visit Baltimore, saying, "Do not just criticize us, but come to Baltimore and I promise you, you will be welcomed."

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Trump's visit to the city on Thursday is expected to be met with some protests, with a coalition of local groups planning to hold a demonstration following his comments over the summer claiming that "no human being would want to live" in the city.

McCarthy argued Thursday that the president was making the case that the challenges with poverty the city faces should not become the status quo.

The California Republican went on to highlight the Opportunity Zone language in the House GOP’s tax reform legislation as an example of the president’s efforts to help urban low-income communities.

“I think the president made a very good case here of why many major cities have [been] challenged. If you want to take the president's comments you can go to the former mayor of Baltimore, you can go to what Congressman Cummings had said before about his own community as well,” he continued.

“These are challenges we want to see a change to, and this is something that the president has been working on," McCarthy said, adding there has been a sharp contrast in Trump's approach to tackling poverty compared with previous administrations.

“We are really transforming communities and we're finding that's happening faster, better investing in others. So I think the president made the case — why do we accept the challenges and ignore them? We shouldn't accept them,” he said.

The president is slated to address GOP lawmakers at 7 p.m.