The Latest on Trump’s Last Day of Midterm Election Campaigning
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump kicked off his last day of campaigning before elections that will determine control of Congress, as he tweeted support for Republican candidates and condemned their Democratic opponents.
Trump Rallies With Limbaugh, ‘Super-Elites’ (11:22 p.m.)
Trump held the last of more than 30 campaign rallies in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Lee Greenwood sang “God Bless the U.S.A.” live and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh introduced Trump.
The president announced that his 2020 campaign slogan will be “Keep America Great.” He called himself and his supporters “the super-elites,” and in an apparent appeal to women voters, invited three female advisers to join him on stage -- White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, and Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel.
It was his second stop in Missouri in less than a week. Trump hopes to help state Attorney General Josh Hawley defeat Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat.
Before the rally, Trump said in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity that the military was building “barbed wire fences” and is doing “a lot of trenching” on the U.S. border of Mexico. He deployed thousands of soldiers last week to stop a so-called “caravan” of migrants still hundreds of miles away, an action his opponents have called a political stunt.
Trump told Hannity that Florida Senator Bill Nelson is “a terrible senator” who’s never called him. “Rick Scott, that’s all he does is call,” Trump said of the Florida Governor seeking to replace Nelson.
He claimed that Andrew Gillum, the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee running to replace Scott, ran his city into the ground. Tallahassee has the “highest murder rate they’ve ever seen” under Gillum, he said. The city had 17 murders in 2017, the highest total ever according to Politifact, but overall crime rates have fallen since Gillum assumed office in 2014.
Hannity subsequently took the stage and spoke at Trump’s rally, at the president’s invitation, despite promising on Twitter earlier in the day that he wouldn’t.
Trump Promises Tax Cut on Eve of Election (6:53 p.m.)
Speaking in Fort Wayne, Indiana, at his second rally of the day, Trump said Democrats “will deliver a socialist nightmare” if they win control of the House, while the GOP will deliver “the American dream.”
Trump reiterated a pledge to deliver a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class and touted current jobs numbers and economic data.
Trump first unveiled the surprise announcement of a new middle-income tax late last month as polling showed that his landmark tax overhaul last year was widely viewed to have mainly helped corporations and the wealthy. Party leaders were caught off-guard by the president’s comments, and Republican tax policy makers knew nothing about the supposed plan.
Trump Attacks Cordray as ‘A Bad Guy’ (3:56 p.m.)
Trump called Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray “a bad guy” at a campaign rally in Cleveland -- the first of three events the day before the midterm vote. Trump said Cordray had “hurt a lot of people” in his work as head of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“He’s a bad person,” Trump said. “We actually essentially fired him so I know a lot about him.”
Trump didn’t fire him. Cordray resigned from the CFPB in November 2017 to run for governor of Ohio and appointed his deputy, Leandra English, to replace him. But Trump in turn named his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, to lead the agency, sparking a legal battle with English.
A U.S. Appeals Court ruled in January that the president can only fire the director of the agency for neglect or wrongdoing and not at-will, as Trump had sought. But after a ruling in Trump’s favor, English gave up her legal battle and resigned from the CFPB in July.
The president also took the opportunity to disparage Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a potential 2020 opponent, once again employing the nickname Pocahontas to mock her claims of Native American ancestry. Warren is a Cordray ally.
Warren released a test finding “strong evidence” she had a Native American in her family tree dating six to 10 generations back, the Boston Globe reported last month.
Trump Defends Campaign Ad Criticized as Racist (1:51 p.m.)
Trump defended his decision to create a campaign advertisement so racially charged that all the major TV networks have pulled it. The ad, posted on his Twitter account last week, falsely blames Democrats for allowing an undocumented immigrant into the country who “killed our people” and shows images of a mob of Latino people knocking down a fence.
Critics have called the ad offensive and racist.
“A lot of things are offensive,” Trump told reporters before departing Joint Base Andrews outside Washington. His ads, he said, “certainly are effective.”
He said he doesn’t mind if the election becomes a referendum on his presidency.
“I’m willing to accept that,” he said, adding that “there’s a lot of energy” among Republican voters.
Trump Questions Integrity of U.S. Election System (1:04 p.m.)
Before departing the White House the president questioned the integrity of the U.S. election system, saying in an interview that he believes that voter fraud is widespread even though experts say it’s not. He declined to say whether he’s been briefed on the matter.
“I can’t comment on that,” he told Nexstar Broadcasting, an affiliation of local TV stations. “I’ve long been a person that said a lot of people vote illegally. I believe that. You have a lot of illegal voting going on.”
He said “I hope not” when asked if he expected illegal voting in the midterm elections, and warned fraudulent voters would be prosecuted.
Trump Warns of ‘Illegal Voting’ to Suppress Votes (11:22 a.m.)
Even as Democrats complained of efforts to scare their voters away from the polls, the president engaged in some light voter suppression. He warned in a tweet that police have been told to watch out for “illegal voting.”
Repeated studies have shown that vote fraud is exceedingly rare in the U.S., but the president has never recanted his unsubstantiated claim that 3 million people illegally voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, helping her win the popular vote.
Publicly warning that police are watching the polls may deter citizens who are unsure whether they’re registered from casting a ballot. But federal law requires all states to offer such voters the chance to cast provisional ballots, which are counted if election authorities determine that the voters are eligible.
Campaign Chief Cites $20 Million for Midterms (11:15 a.m.)
Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said the campaign had spent more than $20 million on the midterm elections. He spoke on a conference call with Trump and Republican leaders that was organized by the campaign and the Republican National Committee.
Encouraging his supporters to get to the polls, Trump declared, “We’re turning the country around rapidly.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, channeled Trump on the call, declaring that the election didn’t merely pit Republicans versus Democrats. “It’s America versus socialism,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said that losing control of the Senate would slow or stop Trump’s judicial nominations.
“If we were to lose the Senate, the president’s plans to reconfigure the judiciary would come to a screeching halt,” he warned.