The White House on Thursday declined to confirm whether President Donald Trump is planning to stop in Missoula next week, though rumors ran wild across the city.
Word of Trump’s proposed visit first appeared on the Missoula County Sheriff Department’s Facebook page, though additional details remained scarce.
“Members of our office have been invited to a meeting by the US Secret Service addressing security measures in the event of a potential Presidential visit to Missoula, MT,” the department posted early Thursday.
The meeting is tentatively set for Friday, according to Missoula County commissioners.
Trump’s visit to Missoula would mark his third stop in Montana this campaign season, following a July stop in Great Falls and a September stop in Billings. Both events focused largely on Matt Rosendale, who’s challenging Sen. Jon Tester for his seat in the Senate.
In a request for comment, a White House spokesperson on Thursday said no information on the president’s proposed visit was available. The office neither confirmed or denied the visit, allegedly set for Oct. 18.
Calls to the Montana Republican Party and Missoula County Republicans for comment weren’t returned on Thursday.
A presidential visit wouldn’t come cheap. Trump’s visit to Billings cost the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Department roughly $59,000. That included 951 hours of overtime to handle traffic management, logistical support, crowd control and protest management.
The cost to taxpayers in Great Falls rang in at $80,000.
“You look at what Billings said they spent, it was a lot of cost for extra security,” said Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss. “The sheriff’s office has a meeting with the Secret Service tomorrow where they might have more of an idea. I don’t even know where the rally is supposed to be.”
Curtiss said it would be challenging for the county to cover the costs associated with a presidential visit.
“Their (sheriff’s department) budget is always a challenge,” she said. “It’s just expensive work. It’s this burden that falls on the taxpayers.”
Trump’s proposed visit to Missoula prompted some on social media to note his poor showing in the county in the 2016 election, where he lost to candidate Hillary Clinton by nearly 9,000 votes, or a 53-38 percent margin.
But in surrounding counties Trump ran strong. He secured 66 percent of the vote in Ravalli County, 65 percent in Flathead County, and 66 percent in Mineral County.
“President Trump’s visit is going to help energize Missoula Democrats to get out and vote,” said David Kendall, chairperson of the Missoula Democrats.