WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he'll "remain neutral" when he goes to watch top-ranked rivals LSU and Alabama face off in Tuscaloosa this weekend, teams from deep red states where the president is popular.
"I love football. I love those two states," Trump said during an appearance on Acadiana conservative radio host Moon Griffon's show Wednesday. "We’re going to have a good game."
Trump's attendance at the game has prompted increased security and added to the buzz surrounding the already highly-anticipated match-up.
Trump was in Louisiana Wednesday to rally for Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone, who is attempting to unseat Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in the Nov. 16 election. He's expected to return next week for a third rally.
Trump remarked during the radio appearance that both Louisiana and Alabama have been "good" to him.
He received more than 58% of the Louisiana vote in the 2016 presidential campaign and 62% in Alabama. He has remained politically popular in both states, with thousands of supporters turning out for the two rallies he's held in Louisiana already this election cycle.
Despite frequently working with Edwards, Trump has taken a more critical path in attempting to unseat the only Democratic governor in the Deep South.
“John Bel Edwards, not good. Goes around saying ‘I like Trump very much,’ but behind my back he doesn’t like me," Trump said during a rally in Lake Charles last month. "A friend of mine knows him well. He said ‘Behind your back, he’s not so good.’”
Edwards, meanwhile, has refrained from criticizing Trump on the campaign trail.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron, who is Edwards' friend, said he hoped Trump wouldn't pick sides when it comes to Saturday's game.
"Well, I think a president needs to be neutral," Orgeron said during the Southeastern Conference teleconference Wednesday morning. "If he wants to cheer for LSU, (I'll) welcome his cheering. But obviously I don't think the president should be cheering for either team. I think he should be right down the middle."
During the local radio appearance, Trump inquired about LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who has emerged as a favorite for the Heisman Trophy.
"Is your quarterback as good as they say?" Trump asked Griffon.
Burrow said he's happy to have the president in the stands Saturday.
"Regardless of political views, that’s pretty cool having the president at the game," he said Monday. "It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, (having) the president at the game is pretty cool."
This will be Trump's first college football game since attending the 2018 national championship game in Atlanta, when Alabama defeated Georgia.
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Baton Rouge Republican who is expected to join Trump Saturday, joked that he's going to lobby Trump to cheer for LSU.
“President Trump is always with the best. He is going to the best game with the best team. He will also see Alabama play,” he quipped.
LSU plays Alabama at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.
The two gubernatorial candidates, who happen to be LSU grads and fans, will not be there to watch their alma mater take on rival Alabama.
Edwards, who has a law degree from LSU, and Rispone, a Baton Rouge businessman who got his bachelor's from LSU, will spend the final Saturday of their runoff race stumping in Louisiana, their campaigns confirmed.
Alabama's athletic department announced that Bryant-Denny Stadium's gates will open extra early "due to heightened security."
LSU and Alabama are Nos. 2 and 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings released this week, with Ohio State ranked ahead of the SEC rivals.
In the AP's Top 25 poll, LSU and Alabama are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. It's the first regular-season game that the teams have been at the top of the AP since LSU and Alabama's 2011 face-off — a game that became known as the "Game of the Century."
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is expected in Tuscaloosa this weekend to watch No. 2 Alabama take on the No. 1 LSU Tigers, according to a…
LSU won that match-up 9-6. The rivals went on to play in the BCS national championship game that season, with Alabama winning the title game 21-0.
The Crimson Tide have won every game in the rivalry since then, including 29-0 at Tiger Stadium last year.
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