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Trump looking to best Obama’s travel schedule for midterms

August 22, 2018
Donald Trump
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President Donald Trump points to a supporter after speaking during a rally Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Charleston, W.Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is preparing for an aggressive campaign schedule this fall to boost Republican candidates on the ballot in 2018.

Trump is aiming to spend more than 40 days on the campaign trail between the beginning of August and the Nov. 6 midterms, as he hopes to best his predecessors’ travel schedules, White House officials said. The officials said Trump wants to be on the road for Republicans more than President Barack Obama was for Democrats in 2010 — when his party suffered what Obama called a “shellacking” — and beyond what President George W. Bush did in 2002.

“We expect the president to be the most aggressive campaigner in recent presidential history,” said John Destefano, a counsellor to the president.

Trump, for his part, told supporters at a rally in West Virginia that he would campaign as much as feasible, taking into account concerns about security and other pressing national matters.

The Republican Party is defending its majorities in the House and Senate, facing headwinds from retirements and an energized Democratic opposition.

“We are fighting history,” White House political director Bill Stepien said, noting that the party of an incumbent president traditionally suffers electoral losses in the midterm year.

White House officials are unwilling to publicly list specific goals for the coming election, with Stepien saying only that, “A successful year would be defying that history.”

Stepien added, “The president has put his party in the best position to defy those odds.”

White House officials say Trump can be best used in the campaign by holding campaign rallies in key states to boost Republican enthusiasm. He is also attending fundraisers for GOP candidates and various Republican groups.

Trump has predicted his party will defy expectations in November, suggesting there may be a “Red Wave” in the fall of Republican candidates.

“They keep talking about a blue wave,” Trump said in West Virginia Tuesday. “I don’t see it.”

He warned Republican voters: “You aren’t just voting for a candidate. You’re voting for which party controls the House and which party controls the Senate.”

The GOP does have several potential pick-up opportunities in the Senate, with vulnerable red-state Democrats on the ballot in West Virginia, North Dakota and Florida. But the House map appears far more challenging, made worse by the large number of GOP retirements.

Trump was in West Virginia to promote Republican Patrick Morrisey’s Senate candidacy. That race is one of the GOP’s prime pickup opportunities.

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This story has been corrected to show that Trump’s travel is being tallied from the beginning of August, not Labor Day.

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