Candidates ready for ‘electric’ Trump rally to energize GOP voters

October 5, 2018
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State Sen. Karin Housley has been in this position before.

The GOP nominee running against Sen. Tina Smith, DFL, to fill the remainder of former Sen. Al Franken’s term, Housley will get a prime spot on stage at the Trump rally Thursday at Mayo Civic Center.

“I will be speaking onstage before the president,” Housley said Monday. “I did the same thing (at the June 20 Trump rally) in Duluth.”

Housley currently trails Smith in the Real Clear Politics poll average by 6.7 points. But all those polls were taken before today’s rally.

For herself and the rest of the Republican ticket in Minnesota, Housley said a visit from President Donald Trump will energize the base, call attention to his successful economic policies and, hopefully, give GOP candidates a Trump bump at the polls.

“Him coming to Minnesota is validating that Minnesota is important,” Housley said. “You’ve got the whole country looking at our elections. We’re going to flip two seats in the House, one in the senate, and the governor’s race.”

Housley noted that Trump lost Minnesota in 2016 by only about 40,000 votes, a margin that makes the state ripe to turn red from national elections like hers to races down ballot such as Jeff Johnson vs. Tim Walz for governor or the hotly contested fight between Rep. Keith Ellison and Doug Wardlow to become Minnesota’s next attorney general.

In a Sept. 3 article, CNN political commentator Jack Kingston noted that Republican candidates, certainly during the primary season, who were endorsed by Trump saw their support in the polls and at the ballot box jump after everything from a supportive tweet to a handshake at a rally from the president.

Jim Hagedorn, who is running against Dan Feehan to replace Rep. Tim Walz in Minnesota’s 1st District, said Minnesota is “ground zero” on the national scene.

“For people who voted for Donald Trump who may not vote in every election, if you want his policies to continue to be enacted you need to go out and vote,” Hagedorn said. “He’s going to help us define that this is a very critical midterm election of two very differing midterm views.”

Hagedorn said he hopes the president’s visit helps all GOP candidates with his message about successes of his policies thus far and what can be accomplished in the future with a Republican House and Senate.

“I want to be a conservative reinforcement in the House for President Trump,” he said.

Rep. Jason Lewis, who represents the 2nd Congressional District, will arrive on Air Force One with the president, who will hold a morning rally in Minneapolis Thursday to support the Republican National Congressional Committee.

“We definitely want to be there with the president and celebrate the great economic news and the trade deal,” Lewis said.

That news, Lewis said, spurred by Trump’s economic and trade policies, make it easy to stand by the president despite how he is viewed by Democrats.

“I’m focused on the policies of the president, which I agree with,” Lewis said, when asked about the president’s leadership style and Twitter feed.

He pointed to issues important to his own district such as the Enbridge pipeline that supports the Pine Bend oil refinery and the president’s goal of finally creating a permanent nuclear storage facility at Yucca Mountain.

“I’d remind people what’s at stake in the midterms. We’ve had a remarkable turnaround,” Lewis said. That includes a better job market, an increase in take-home pay for American workers and increased energy production. “All of that goes away with Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi. If you like what happens with the Kavanaugh hearings, that’s what will happen on a daily basis.”

Like Housley, Lewis, who is in a tight race with Angie Craig, whom he faces in a rematch of his 2016 election, hopes the president’s coattails will benefit him on Nov. 6. Currently, the lone poll in the race on Real Clear Politics’ website favors Craig by 3 points, with 7 percent undecided and a margin of error wider than the advantage.

In 2016, that same poll picked Craig by 5.5 percent, but Lewis benefited from the Trump wave to win by 2 percent.

Housley said running alongside Trump’s policies is a smart move for Republicans.

“Even the people I have talked with who didn’t vote for him, and that includes my own sister, have changed their minds on his policies,” she said. “I don’t always like his style or agree with his Tweets, but when you stick with policy, they like what he’s getting done.”

Looking forward to the event, Lewis said a Trump rally is unlike any other political event, especially one with a sitting president. “I have been to other presidential rallies,” he said. “Rarely do you see the enthusiasm in the arena that you’ll see here.”

For the GOP base, Hagedorn said gathering so many supporters in one place will help energize those voters who nearly delivered the state to Trump in 2016.

“You’re bringing thousands upon thousands of conservatives and Republicans together to hear directly from the president,” Hagedorn said.

Housley, who said she’ll be attending her third rally overall with Trump, said attendees at Mayo Civic Center will see “how electric it is in there.”

“There will be some people sleeping outside overnight to make sure they get in there,” she said. “It’ll be like nothing you’ve ever seen.”

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