The Trump campaign is considering putting resources into Oregon, CNN has learned, a state where Hillary Clinton beat the President by 11 percentage points in 2016.
In fact, Oregon is so blue that it has not voted for a Republican for president since 1984. But the Trump campaign is flush with cash and is looking for ways to spend its money and time wisely while Democrats duke it out for the chance to run against President Donald Trump.
CNN obtained a memo to the Trump campaign from pollster Tony Fabrizio about ideas for “expanding the map” to give the President more options for getting the 270 electoral votes needed to win the re-election, where he mentions looking at Oregon.
In the memo, Fabrizio maintains that New Hampshire, New Mexico and Nevada – all states that Trump lost in 2016 – are now “highly competitive.” Those are three states where the Trump campaign already has resources on the ground.
Same goes for Minnesota, another state where Clinton beat Trump in 2016, but Fabrizio says to “keep an eye on” this cycle.
Oregon, however, is no-man’s-land for the national GOP. The last Republican to make an early play for Oregon was George W. Bush during his 2004 reelection bid, since he had come within 8,000 votes of Al Gore there in 2000. But Bush lost Oregon to John Kerry by 4 percentage points.
Still, a senior Trump campaign source tells CNN that they are considering hiring staff to “test the waters” in Oregon after hearing from Fabrizio and talking to National Republican Congressional Committee counterparts. The committee is also hoping to recruit a strong GOP candidate to challenge longtime Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio.
To be sure, the Trump campaign is under no illusion that Oregon is winnable at this point, but they also know that re-taking states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan or even Iowa, where the President is traveling on Tuesday, are hardly sure bets.
“If we are a month out and a previous victory like Michigan is not possible, would be nice to know other states are options,” said the senior adviser.
Plus, the Trump team knows from experience that pushing against the grain can pay off. When they spent money in the Wisconsin and Michigan in 2016 and sent their candidate there, many thought it was a fool’s errand, until Trump turned those states red for the first time in a generation.
Oregon is now represented in the governor’s mansion, the Senate and all but one House seat by Democrats. Still, an Oregon Republican Party source insists there is an “undercurrent” of dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party thanks to increasingly unaffordable housing in the cities, crime and homelessness among other problems.
An Oregon Democratic Party official insists that Trump doesn’t stand a chance in their state.
“It makes sense that the GOP would be interested in refurbishing their reputation out here. Their party has championed putting kids in cages, taking health care away from working families and defiling the Constitution. This is not the Oregon way,” said Molly Woon, deputy director of the Oregon Democratic Party. “They’re welcome to visit, but they should be prepared for an icy reception from Oregon voters.”
Not surprisingly, the Oregon Republican Party is eager for the national party to invest there for 2020.
“Every day Oregonians can see that President Trump is taking on the big problems and making the economy a huge success. This provides a powerful contrast between the policies we hear about from the 2020 Democratic presidential field, and the promises kept and success delivered by President Trump. Oregon continues to be home to a growing number of forgotten men and women, especially in rural Oregon, a major theme of his campaign since 2016,” said Kevin Hoar, communications director for the Oregon Republican Party.