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Trump is going all-in to save the GOP's majority in Congress

"I will go six or seven days a week when we're 60 days out," Trump said this week.

by Alex Thompson
Jul 31 2018, 3:14pm

President Donald Trump isn’t content with a supporting role this November — even if his name doesn’t appear on the ballot.

With 98 days left before voters could give Democrats the majority in the House and the Senate, Trump is ramping up his efforts to make sure that Republicans stay in control after the midterm elections.

"I will go six or seven days a week when we're 60 days out, and I will be campaigning for all of these great people that do have a difficult race, and we think we’re going to bring them over the line," Trump told Sean Hannity in a radio interview last Friday. (That’s up from the “four or five days a week” Trump promised back in January.)

“I said to [Chief of Staff] General [John] Kelly, give me the top 25 Congresspeople who are, you know, could go either way, and I want to go out and campaign for those people. Likewise with the Senate because we’re going to fix everything once we have the votes,” Trump told Hannity.

Republicans have a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate and a 236-193 majority in the House. But with few Republican Senators up for tough reelection battles. Instead, the Democratic Party and the progressive grassroots have focused the bulk of their efforts on the House, which would allow the party to stop Trump’s legislative agenda and conduct endless investigations.

Despite the threat of a Democratic-controlled House, Trump may be doing more of his high-decibel rallies and public campaigning for Senate candidates this year, according to Republican operatives involved in the party’s midterm efforts.

"I will go six or seven days a week when we're 60 days out."

“Trump definitely plays better on the Senate map than the House map,” said one national GOP operative involved in the midterms who expects to see lots of Trump campaign rallies this fall across the country. “That’s what he does best. That’s how he ran his entire campaign in 2016, and it’s something he excels at.” Another Republican operative involved in the party’s midterm effort also said Senate races will likely see more appearances from Trump than House races.

The White House did not respond when asked if they expect the president to do more campaigning for House or Senate candidates.

The Senate map is also primed for Trump this November. Ten incumbent Democrats in the Senate are running for reelection in states that Trump won in 2016 such as West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

As a result, expect a lot of Trump rallies this fall. The president’s getting started with visits to Florida and Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Thursday this week, one of which will be a rally with the GOP’s Senate nominee Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania. He’s also already visited North Dakota, Indiana, and Montana as well. And he wants to do more.

It’s not unusual for a president to be heavily involved in midterm elections. But with Trump’s approval ratings in the low 40s, how and where to use him is a delicate issue for Republicans. Several of the most competitive House districts are in suburban areas where Trump lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016. In fact, multiple Republican campaigns, such as the one for Colorado’s Rep. Mike Coffman, have publicly said they don’t expect or want Trump to come rally in their district.

Even if Republicans don’t want Trump in their districts, however, they’re happy to take his help with raising money. His 2020 campaign and the Republican National Committee transferred $8 million to the party’s Senate and House campaign arms last week.

Some Republicans may publicly decline having a Trump rally this fall, but none appear to be rejecting the president’s help altogether, even if it’s just financial. In fact, not a single GOP candidate for Congress this year has run a TV ad critical of the president, according to an analysis by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group.

“I just don’t know any reason why we shouldn’t do well,” Trump told Hannity. “My endorsements seem to have a lot of weight.”

Follow Alex on Twitter @AlxThomp.

Cover image: President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in Fargo, N.D. Trump was in Fargo to campaign for Republican Senate hopeful Kevin Cramer, who is hoping to unseat Democrat Heidi Heitkamp. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Donald Trump
Lou Barletta