Politics

Trump to Focus on Midwestern Battlegrounds in Final Midterms Tour

One president. 11 rallies. Eight states. Six days.

President Donald Trump waves to a crowd of supporters as he arrives at a rally at the International Air Response facility in Mesa, Ariz., on Oct. 19. Behind him is Arizona Republican Senate nominee Martha McSally. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump will hit eight states with 11 campaign rallies in the final six days of the midterm election cycle with the House and Senate — and most of his domestic agenda — up for grabs.

Trump was in Washington on Monday and will remain there until Wednesday, when he will begin his final push to convince voters to keep both chambers in Republican hands. His tour will mostly focus on Midwestern and Mid-Southern battlegrounds.

A person familiar with the president’s plans said he will begin an “ambitious” barnstorming effort Wednesday night in Fort Myers, Florida,  where Gov. Rick Scott is trying to oust incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, and former GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis is trying to defeat Tallahassee Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum in that state’s gubernatorial fight. On Monday morning, Trump called Gillum a “thief” in a tweet, a sign he’s taking the gloves back off after a deadly shooting Saturday at a Pittsburgh synagogue led him to admittedly tone down his tough talk about Democrats at a rally that night.

On Thursday, he will jet to Columbia, Missouri, to stump for Republican state Attorney General Josh Hawley, who has opened a lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Watch: New Trump Ad Declares The Future ‘Isn’t Guaranteed’

During the campaign’s final three days, the president will pick up the pace. He intends to hold multiple rallies per day, as he did during his 2016 presidential campaign.

On Friday, his first stop will be West Virginia for a rally in Huntington for state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is trying to oust incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III. Manchin’s vote for controversial Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, experts say, might be enough to keep that seat blue. But Trump has been there several times and still views the West Virginia Democrat as vulnerable. That night, he will be in Indianapolis, where polls show Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in trouble against Republican Mike Braun, a businessman and former state representative.

He will be in Florida again Saturday night with a Pensacola event. The same day, he will head to Montana to try to put state Auditor Matt Rosendale over the top in his race to unseat two-term Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.

The president will start Sunday in Macon, Georgia, to try and help GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp win the governor’s race. Then he will take Air Force One to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Rep. Marsha Blackburn has opened a lead for the seat her fellow Republican, Sen. Bob Corker, is vacating. 

It’s then back to Indiana — Fort Wayne, this time — on Monday as the first of three rallies. Cape Girardeau, Missouri, is the second stop — a sign Trump and GOP leaders do not want that seat to remain blue. He will wrap up the final day of campaigning in Cleveland, Ohio, where Republican Attorney General (and former senator) Mike DeWine is locked in a close race for governor with Democrat Richard Cordray. The Buckeye State is also home to a Senate contest this year, though GOP Rep. James B. Renacci is currently running far behind incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

In a way, Trump’s final 2018 appearance will mark the unofficial start of his 2020 re-election bid. That’s because Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales lists the Brown-Renacci race as Solid Democratic. But a big win by Brown is seen as a potential springboard to a 2020 presidential bid.

Sprint to the finish

The barnstorming tour is part of Trump’s aggressive midterms homestretch sprint. Last week, he held rallies in several states that feature close races, including Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois and North Carolina.

Trump’s closing argument is built on the same stump speech he’s been delivering lately at rallies and official events alike. It features his usual ticking off of what he sees as his accomplishments in office — but with amplified rhetoric and warnings about a perceived leftward lunge by the Democratic Party and its 2018 slate of candidates.

The GOP president regularly warns supporters at rallies about Democrats eager to grab control of the House and Senate so they can alter immigration policy to allow a greater “flow” of migrants into the country — on Monday, he tweeted that a caravan making its way from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border was an approaching “invasion” force. Trump offers these warnings without supporting evidence to prove they are anything but something intended to fire up his base and limit GOP losses by driving up turnout in key House races while possibly picking up a seat or two in the Senate.

At his rallies, the president also contends that giving Democrats more power would ensure higher taxes and changes to social programs like Social Security. He often omits to mention that he holds the power to veto any such legislation Congress sends him and that no political forecaster sees Democrats holding the requisite number of seats in either chamber to override him.

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