President Donald Trump is planning to spend at least 40 days on the road campaigning for Republicans before the midterm elections in November, the President’s top White House political advisers said on Tuesday.
“We identified and held 40 – at least 40 – days of travel from August 1 to Election Day,” counselor to the President Johnny DeStefano, who oversees the White House’s political operations, told reporters on Tuesday.
DeStefano said the midterm campaign travel they are planning for Trump would put him on the road more than his last two predecessors spent campaigning during that time period. President George W. Bush spent 33 days on the campaign trail during the two midterm elections of his presidency, while President Barack Obama spent 22 days and 36 days during the midterm elections, DeStefano said.
Over the next six weeks, DeStefano and White House political director Bill Stepien said Trump is scheduled to travel to six different states – North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Kentucky and Tennessee. They cautioned the states could change as events are often not locked in until two weeks ahead of time, to give Trump more flexibility on where he can best deploy himself.
Trump was busy flexing his midterm muscles in West Virginia on Tuesday, where he invited the Republicans Senate nominee Patrick Morrisey to join him on stage and warned his supporters of the consequence of a “blue wave” in November.
“A blue wave in November means open borders, which means massive crime,” Trump said, seizing on the issue of immigration and border security. “A red wave means safety and strength, that’s what it is.”
The White House political team is plotting out the President’s midterm travel as it confronts the increasingly clear reality of the steep odds Republicans face to hold onto their majority in Congress in 2018.
“One thing that is important to note is history. We all know the challenging nature of history in a midterm election cycle. The opposing party historically gains seats in midterm elections with just 2 exceptions since the Civil War,” Stepien said on Tuesday.
The importance for the President of ensuring Republicans keep hold of their majority in the House was magnified later Tuesday when Michael Cohen, the President’s longtime personal attorney, pleaded guilty to eight federal charges including a campaign finance violation that he said he carried out with Trump’s knowledge and under his direction. The legal implications could heighten the threat of impeachment if Democrats take over the House.
Trump’s efforts to boost Republicans in House, Senate and gubernatorial contests extend beyond stumping on the road.
“Rallies are just one tool in his toolkit,” Stepien said, noting that Trump has directly raised more than $75 million for Republicans running for re-election through 16 fundraising events.
Top Trump administration officials are also being deployed on official business across the country to key congressional districts.
Stepien said Cabinet members – like Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Energy Secretary Rick Perry – senior staffers, like Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, have held 35 events so far in August in key House districts.
But rallies will be key as Trump looks to galvanize his political base into turning out to vote in November, even though he is not on the ballot, Stepien said.
“His rallies bring out not just the conservative, deep-red voter who votes in every local election and every school board election,” Stepien said. “Less likely midterm voters are in attendance at those rallies As many as a quarter of those in attendance only vote in presidential years.”