Clinton to visit ground zero on 9/11 anniversary

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the 136th Annual National Baptist Convention held at the Kansas City Convention Center, in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Hillary Clinton is opting to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks with a visit to ground zero

NEW YORK — Hillary Clinton's campaign said Friday she now plans to visit ground zero to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.

Clinton will arrive at the memorial Sunday morning before the annual moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., marking the moment that the first plane struck the skyscraper's north tower, her spokeswoman Julie Wood told The Associated Press on Friday.

Clinton, who was a senator from New York when the attacks took place in 2001, had not previously indicated that she would visit the memorial for its annual commemoration. But her campaign notified officials at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum late Thursday that she would like to attend the morning's events, according to a person briefed on the decision but not authorized to speak publicly before her visit was officially announced.

The former Secretary of State is not expected to make any public remarks.

Her Republican rival, New York native Donald Trump, is not slated to attend. A spokeswoman for Trump declined to discuss the celebrity businessman's schedule for the day.

Both campaigns have confirmed they intend to halt television ads for the anniversary, keeping with a tradition of avoiding partisan presidential politics on 9/11.

A spokesman for the September 11 memorial told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the museum had not heard from either candidate that they planned to attend but indicated that a last-minute change would be welcome. Clinton's decision to mark the anniversary at the World Trade Center site has a precedent: in 2008, the last time an incumbent wasn't running for the White House, Barack Obama and John McCain set aside their political differences to make a joint appearance at the site in New York.

Trump and Clinton are the first New Yorkers to become their parties' nominees for president since nearly 3,000 people died in the Sept. 11 attacks. Both candidates have made their experiences that day part of their campaign narratives.

Clinton has frequently highlighted her efforts — including in a campaign ad released Friday — to aid those affected by the World Trade Center collapse. She made frequent trips to the attack site and her staff has highlighted her efforts to help secure medical benefits for first responders sickened at ground zero.

Trump, meanwhile, has said he donated construction equipment to the recovery effort and gave $100,000 to the memorial after touring it for the first time earlier this year. But he also received widespread criticism for claiming that "thousands and thousands" of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated when the towers toppled, a claim for which there is no proof.

The lower Manhattan memorial — now a peaceful open space flanked by soaring new skyscrapers — has hosted President Barack Obama and other elected officials at previous commemorations but in recent years, including Sunday, the speakers at the event will largely be family members of the deceased.

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Reach Jonathan Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JonLemire

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