President Donald Trump is planning to attend the national college football championship game between Georgia and Alabama on Monday in Atlanta, according to three people with direct knowledge of his plans.
Nick Ayers, a Georgia native who is Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, and his wife Jamie Ayers will host the Trumps. First Lady Melania Trump is also expected to attend the game, which will be held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium under stepped-up security.
It’s not immediately certain whether two other top Trump allies in Georgia – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Sen. David Perdue – will join them.
Trump and his aides have focused their attention on the college football playoffs even as he continues a war of words with the NFL over players who protest social injustice during the national anthem.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders opened her press briefing Tuesday by congratulating the SEC schools “from two great states, both in the heart of Trump country” for bowl victories that propelled them to the championship.
Trump carried both states in 2016 – Alabama by nearly 30 points and Georgia by about five. But Alabama voters dealt Trump a blow in December by electing Democrat Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate over Republican Roy Moore, who Trump endorsed.
When pressed on Moore’s defeat, Sanders said she was simply trying to congratulate “two great football teams in the greatest conference in the country.”
As the room erupted into laughter, she added: “Which I’m sure that most of you will all agree, even those that don’t live in one of those lucky states.”