Trump is returning to campaign roots with rally in Indiana

Taking the reins as party leader, President Donald Trump is returning to his campaign roots with big-stage events allowing him to target vulnerable Senate Democrats and mobilize his most fervent supporters on behalf of Republicans.

Posted: May 10, 2018 12:57 PM
Updated: May 10, 2018 12:57 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Taking the reins as party leader, President Donald Trump is returning to his campaign roots with big-stage events allowing him to target vulnerable Senate Democrats and mobilize his most fervent supporters on behalf of Republicans.

Trump was set to rally supporters in Elkhart, Indiana, on Thursday night, two days after state Republicans nominated former state lawmaker Mike Braun to challenge vulnerable Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly. Trump’s political advisers view the event, which will also be attended by home-state Vice President Mike Pence, as a way to project party unity following a bruising primary.

President Donald Trump speaks at an event to promote his tax cut package in Hialeah, Fla. Trump will play host to Japan’s Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Trump, who helped the Republican National Committee raise a record $132 million last year, has told advisers he is eager to ramp up his campaign travel on behalf of Republicans. The president carried 10 states in 2016 that have Democratic senators on the ballot this year and is expected to campaign heavily to help Republicans maintain Senate and House majorities and elect GOP governors.

“The president takes his role as leader of the Republican Party very seriously and after more than a year in office he understands too few Democrats are willing to join hands across party lines to support issues that the American people resoundingly called for,” said White House political director Bill Stepien. “The president’s calendar is mapped out with his political priorities in mind.”

For Trump, who is preparing for a historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amid an ongoing investigation into Russian election meddling and daily developments about his personal attorney’s payments to a porn actress, the travel will allow him to frame the campaign debate, specifically Donnelly’s no vote on last year’s tax overhaul.

Trump’s political advisers chose to hold the rally in the heart of Donnelly’s political base. Before his 2012 election, the senator represented a House district that included Elkhart.

The city, home to manufacturing jobs and the recreational vehicle industry, was also paid a visit by President Barack Obama in 2009 when the region was suffering from unemployment rates surpassing 19 percent. Obama returned to Elkhart in 2016 to point to economic progress, but Trump carried the county and much of the region overwhelmingly that year.

Ahead of the rally, Donnelly’s campaign said the senator had voted with Trump 62 percent of the time “because he works for Hoosiers, not any politician or political party.”

The Indiana rally will be Trump’s fourth political-style event in the past two weeks. Trump skipped the White House Correspondents’ Dinner late last month to rally supporters in Macomb County, Michigan.

His speech last week to the National Rifle Association in Dallas put him before thousands of gun-rights activists who actively backed his campaign. And last Saturday, Trump was in Ohio, long the key electoral piece for any GOP presidential hopeful.

During the event in Cleveland, Trump was joined by Rep. Jim Renacci, who won the Republican Senate nomination on Tuesday with the president’s endorsement. Trump said Renacci’s opponent, Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, “does not think the way we think ... when it comes to borders, when it comes to so much,” delivering a message that Republicans hope to hear frequently.

“If President Trump is willing to go out and define some of these opponents, it’s extremely helpful to those campaigns,” said Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign aide. “He’ll deliver the negative messages, they can deliver the positive.”

Ahead of West Virginia’s U.S. Senate primary, Trump tweeted that Republican candidate Don Blankenship couldn’t win the November election against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a top GOP target.

Advisers said the president was pleased that Republicans nominated Attorney General Pat Morrissey, considered a stronger challenger against Manchin.

“In West Virginia, his one tweet single-handedly swung the dynamics of a race,” Stepien said.

Stepien said Trump would engage in a similar way in future races “if he feels particularly strongly about a race or feels a particular connection to a candidate” but added that would happen less often.

A key to Trump’s message will be energizing low-propensity Republican voters in 2018, many of whom turned out for the first time in years to vote for him.

As he travels the country, Trump will face the question of whether his appeal is transferable to down-ballot candidates, much in the way that Obama struggled to rally core Democrats when he wasn’t running himself.

Obama suffered broad losses in Congress and in statehouses during the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections, an outcome Trump hopes to avoid.

Appearing at a Cabinet meeting, Trump said that Tuesday ended up being “a very big night for the Republican Party” in primaries in West Virginia, Ohio and elsewhere.

“Every candidate that we wanted won, and they did very well,” Trump said Wednesday. “There was tremendous enthusiasm.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 32437

Reported Deaths: 2030
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9371546
Lake3347170
Cass15867
Allen135366
St. Joseph121834
Hendricks113567
Hamilton112391
Johnson1092104
Elkhart107028
Madison58259
Porter49521
Bartholomew48634
Clark47141
LaPorte41523
Tippecanoe3803
Howard37620
Jackson3681
Delaware35936
Hancock32327
Shelby32121
Floyd31539
Boone29335
Morgan27024
Vanderburgh2532
Montgomery23317
White2288
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Grant19521
Noble19221
Harrison18821
Dubois1852
Henry1709
Greene16824
Warrick16528
Dearborn16421
Monroe16211
Vigo1507
Lawrence14623
Miami1391
Putnam1347
Jennings1284
Orange12422
Scott1183
Ripley1136
Franklin1068
Kosciusko971
Carroll932
Daviess8416
Marshall801
Steuben802
Wayne755
Newton7410
Wabash732
Fayette714
Jasper621
LaGrange622
Washington521
Fulton471
Jay460
Randolph453
Rush452
Jefferson421
Whitley412
Clay411
Pulaski400
Owen341
Sullivan331
DeKalb331
Brown331
Starke313
Perry260
Wells260
Huntington262
Knox250
Benton250
Tipton241
Crawford230
Blackford202
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Parke180
Spencer171
Posey160
Gibson142
Ohio130
Warren121
Adams121
Vermillion100
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0159

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 114306

Reported Deaths: 5083
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook745213455
Lake7845270
DuPage7350347
Kane5947162
Will5279264
Winnebago200152
McHenry147569
St. Clair103573
Kankakee80843
Kendall73619
Rock Island63823
Champaign5807
Madison54457
Boone41016
Sangamon33727
DeKalb3343
Randolph2644
Jackson24210
McLean21513
Out of IL2051
Stephenson1942
Ogle1932
Macon18919
Peoria1888
Clinton17817
Union1437
LaSalle14013
Whiteside13410
Iroquois1314
Coles11912
Warren1130
Unassigned1100
Jefferson10116
Knox940
Monroe9311
Grundy882
McDonough837
Lee761
Tazewell693
Cass680
Henry670
Williamson572
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin431
Perry410
Pulaski410
Montgomery391
Vermilion371
Morgan341
Christian334
Jo Daviess310
Livingston312
Douglas260
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Washington180
Woodford182
Mason170
Menard170
Mercer160
Shelby161
Bureau151
Hancock150
Carroll142
Franklin120
Piatt120
Schuyler120
Crawford110
Fulton110
Bond101
Brown100
Clark100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Edgar00
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