• Donald Trump reportedly called Milwaukee a "horrible city."
  • The former president is set to be formally crowned the GOP's presidential nominee there in July.
  • Republicans offered a variety of explanations for Trump's reported remark.

Former President Donald Trump on Thursday reportedly insulted Milwaukee, the site of the Republican National Convention in just a few weeks.

"Milwaukee, where we are having our convention, is a horrible city," Trump told House Republicans during their closed-door meeting, according to PunchBowl News.

The strangest part wasn't even Trump's reported insult for the city whose name is a translation of "The Good Land," as Alice Cooper once helpfully taught us. Rather, it was the apparently contradictory ways that Republicans tried to either deny or clarify Trump's remark.

"I was in the room. President Trump did not say this," Rep. Bryan Steil of Wisconsin, wrote on X, quoting PunchBowl reporter Jake Sherman's initial tweet. "There is no better place than Wisconsin in July."

Steil later told a local TV station that Trump "wasn't talking about the city, he was talking about specific issues in the city."

"We were having broad conversation about the challenges we face in as a country, in particular the challenges we've seen in Milwaukee," Steil said mentioning issues with elections, crime, and public schools.

A spokesperson for Steil later told Business Insider that since no one was taking notes, it was not clear whether or not Trump said "Milwaukee" and "horrible" next to each other.

"He's not saying Milwaukee itself is horrible," the spokesperson said. "He was saying the crime and election integrity that the city is facing is what's horrible."

A convention spokesperson told a local TV station that Trump was discussing his concerns about the security perimeter for the convention, which has been the subject of GOP frustration related to whether protests can occur in a park close to the main convention arena.

Both parties have historically hosted their conventions in cities or states that may have different politics than their own. This is especially true for Republicans, who have hosted their conventions in cities like New York. Local officials are known for playing nice though in order to garner the big business and spotlight that comes with hosting one of the two major political parties as they formally nominate their presidential candidate.

Trump's reported insult quickly landed back in Wisconsin where local reporters jumped on the story. The former president's campaign disputed the report.

"Wrong. Total bullshit," spokesperson Steven Cheung wrote on X, quoting Sherman's initial tweet. "He never said it like how it's been falsely characterized as. He was talking about how terrible crime and voter fraud are."

Sherman has stood by his reporting. "Trump absolutely said it - undoubtedly," he wrote later on X. "People hear what they want. This is familiar to all who have covered Trump or Trump-adjacent stories for the last 10 or so years."

Democrats and the Biden campaign were quick to defend the largest city in a key swing state. Democrats were originally set to host their convention in Milwaukee in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to switch to a largely virtual event.

"Once he's settled in with his parole officer, I am certain he will discover that Milwaukee is a wonderful, vibrant and welcoming city full of diverse neighborhoods and a thriving business community," Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, whose district includes most of Milwaukee, wrote on X.

Biden's own account chimed in with an old photo of him celebrating the Milwaukee Buck's 2021 NBA championship at the White House.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson took his own shot at Trump.

"Well, if Donald Trump wants to talk about things that he thinks are horrible, all of us lived through his presidency, so right back at ya, buddy."

Read the original article on Business Insider