Politics

Trump: Democrats in ‘Blind Rage’ to ‘Destroy’ Brett Kavanaugh

President tries to stave off major Democratic upset in Tennessee

Supporters of President Donald Trump wait in line before a Monday campaign rally in Johnson City, Tenn. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump accused Democrats of being in a “blind rage” over his election that has left them willing to torch anything, including the reputation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“They’ve been trying to destroy him from the very first second he was announced,” Trump told a friendly campaign rally crowd Monday in Johnson City, Tennessee. “They’re trying to destroy a fine man. We can’t let that happen.

[Trump Pressures FBI to Wrap Up Kavanaugh Probe Quickly]

Trump again defended his embattled high court pick who faces sexual assault allegations, questions about his temperament, and new concerns that he is too partisan — as well as whether he misled the Senate Judiciary Committee during emotional testimony about the allegations last week. The president called him a stellar student and a world-class intellect.

While Trump started the campaign rally blasting Democrats, he had a warning for the “Make America Great Again” gear-wearing crowd.

“The Democratic Party has been taken over by Resist,” he said. “Everything’s bad. But they stick together. We have to be very careful.”

[McConnell: Brett Kavanaugh Floor Vote This Week]

The president was in Johnson City to try to save the Senate seat being vacated by two-term Tennessee Republican Bob Corker. Trump trounced Hillary Clinton in the Volunteer State by 26 percentage points in 2016, but the Democratic nominee, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, could well pull off what would be a sizable upset against Republican Marsha Blackburn

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Tilts Republican, but several polls have shown Bredesen with a narrow lead just over a month from Election Day.

Trump left the White House on Marine One around 4 p.m. before taking Air Force One to the Volunteer State following a busy day at the White House. First, he formally announcing that Canada on Sunday night joined a U.S.-Mexico trade pact that, if approved by Congress, would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. That became an impromptu press conference, and he later awarded the Medal of Honor.

The rally is the first of three planned during the business week, with the president also slated to weigh in on races in Mississippi (Tuesday night) and Minnesota (Thursday night). And he’ll be in Kansas on Saturday night.

But it is Tennessee where Republican leaders are most hopeful Trump’s involvement will give the GOP candidate a boost.

Trump said Republicans “cherish” Blackburn, saying she “will make a fantastic senator.”

Called onstage by Trump to say a few words, Blackburn loudly declared, “We love the president in Tennessee,” as the crowd cheered its approval. But she got even louder applause when she thanked them for “sending Donald J. Trump to the White House.”

With many political prognosticators predicting Democratic gains in November, Blackburn said any “blue wave” would hit a “red wall” when it crashes into the Tennessee state line as she promised to further slash taxes and support the rest of the GOP-Trump agenda.

“A vote for Marsha is really a vote for me,” Trump said, taking some ownership of the race. “It’s a vote for what we stand for.”

And he dropped his usual line about a vote for Bredesen being a vote for congressional Democratic leaders. Trump dinged the Democrats’s time as governor, saying “he doubled unemployment” and oversaw an economic downturn.

He also claimed Bredesen is running to “be the 51st Democratic senator,” suggesting he has already concluded another Republican incumbent will lose. The GOP currently holds 51 Senate seats to the Democrats’ 49 (including two independents who caucus with them).

Trump drew boos when he said a vote for Bredesen would be a vote for Charles E. Schumer of New York to become majority leader. He also claimed Democrats wants to “flood your streets with criminal aliens,” eliciting even bigger boos.

He dropped another applause line when he declared his administration is “standing up” for the national anthem, renewing his feud with the NFL and players who have knelt while the anthem was played before games. (Tennessee is home to the NFL’s Titans franchise.)

Trump again ticked off a list of perceived accomplishments, urging the crowd to send more Republicans to Washington “to continue this momentum.” In a signal he views the Tennessee Senate race largely as a turnout contest, the president urged rallygoers to make sure their family members, neighbors and co-workers get to the polls on Nov. 6.

The president told the audience the choice is November is one between “prosperity” (Republicans) and “decay” (Democrats).

Watch: Trump Has 3 Prime-Time Rallies This Week. Here’s What We're Watching

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.