Trump Says Kentucky Vote Will Send Message on Impeachment

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(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump encouraged his supporters in Kentucky to vote Tuesday to re-elect the state’s Republican governor, declaring it would send a message to congressional Democrats conducting an impeachment inquiry.

Trump held a campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky on behalf of Governor Matt Bevin, who is being challenged by the state’s Democratic attorney general, Andy Beshear.

Trump Says Kentucky Vote Will Send Message on Impeachment

“Matt’s running against these people and we have to send them a sign,” Trump said. “We are sending a signal by doing that to the rest of the country, to the rest of the world, that the Republican Party, you know what we stand for, what you see what is happening with the Democrats -- they have gone crazy. They are not getting anything done.”

He linked Beshear to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who is running the impeachment inquiry, and the “radical left,” saying “that is who they want to win.”

“If they lose they’re going to say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. You can’t let that happen to me,” Trump told his rally audience.

The White House’s strategy to combat Trump’s impeachment focuses on keeping pressure on congressional Republicans to stay in line, fight the inquiry at every turn and vote down any effort to remove the president from office.

One of Trump’s closest congressional allies, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, complained at the rally that “Congress needs to step up and have equal courage to defend the president” and demanded that media organizations publicly identify the whistle-blower who first raised concerns about Trump’s actions in Ukraine.

Southern Swing

Trump will continue a campaign swing through the South this week, rallying on behalf of the Republican challenging Louisiana’s Democratic governor on Wednesday and attending a fundraiser in Atlanta on Friday. Sports Illustrated reported that Trump is expected to attend a football game between the University of Alabama and Lousiana State University in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Saturday.

Trump Says Kentucky Vote Will Send Message on Impeachment

The appearances come after the House voted on Oct. 31, mostly along partisan lines, to begin public hearings into what Democrats say is Trump’s abuse of power in Ukraine. Democrats are examining his efforts to encourage the country’s government to investigate political rival and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, using millions of dollars in aid to the former Soviet republic as leverage.

As the impeachment inquiry escalates, Trump is using his campaign rallies to maintain support among Republican voters and political leaders.

Trump has also seen value in lending support to GOP candidates before off-year elections in traditionally Republican states, viewing the races as opportunities to flex his political muscles with only minimal risk.

Unpopular Incumbent

Bevin is among the nation’s least popular governors despite his state’s significant GOP lean. Both the state’s senators are Republican.

Running in a state Trump won by 30 percentage points in 2016, Bevin is tied with Beshear, according to a Mason-Dixon poll released in October that showed both candidates attracting the support of 46% of voters.

Trump Says Kentucky Vote Will Send Message on Impeachment

Last month, Bevin called the impeachment inquiry an “absolute travesty” and challenged Beshear to state his position on what the Republican described as a “fundamental question” for Kentucky voters. In a campaign ad, Bevin highlighted impeachment and immigration as pivotal issues.

“Beshear opposes President Trump,” the ad’s voice-over says. “His top supporters want to impeach our president.”

Louisiana Run-Off

On Wednesday, Trump heads to Monroe, Louisiana, his second visit to the state in a month. There, he’ll stump for Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone, who’s challenging incumbent John Bel Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South.

Two polls last month showed Edwards with a nine-percentage point advantage. Rispone, a businessman and political novice, was the top Republican vote-getter in the state’s “jungle primary” in October. The run-off election is Nov. 16.

On Friday, the president renewed his attacks on Democrats’ impeachment efforts during a rally in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he he stumped for Republican Tate Reeves, who’s running for governor against Jim Hood, the state’s popular Democratic attorney general.

In the first such event since the House voted to kick off the public phase of the inquiry, Trump told a cheering crowd that “the Democrat Party has gone completely insane” and is trying to overturn his election.

‘Desperate’ Democrats

“The Democrats, the media and the deep state are desperate to stop us,” Trump said.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Sunday, Trump rejected surveys showing that almost half of Americans want him impeached and removed from office. The president said his own polling showed opposition to impeachment in key swing states.

“People don’t want anything to do with impeachment,” he said.

Trump also came out on Twitter over the weekend for the various Republicans he’s supporting in the South, starting with Bevin.

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