Trump Plans Eight-State Campaign Swing in Final Push, Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump plans to hold campaign rallies in eight states next week in a final push ahead of November elections that will determine whether Republicans retain control of Congress, a White House official said.

Trump will travel to Missouri, West Virginia, Montana, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida in the final days before the Nov. 6 vote, the official said. All are states the president carried in the 2016 election and have competitive races for either Congress or governor.

The president plans to hold at least 10 rallies in the space of six days, with two in Florida, the official said.

An internal memo from White House director of political affairs Bill Stepien suggests Trump’s team is making preparations to explain away a Republican loss of the House and position Trump to claim credit if the party holds onto control of the Senate or even expands its margin.

The memo stresses the challenging political climate for Republican incumbents, emphasizing the historical headwinds for the president’s party in midterm congressional elections, the large number of Republican incumbents retiring and Democratic challengers’ fundraising advantages. The memo says Democratic challengers out-raised incumbent House Republicans in 92 districts in the last quarter.

Stepien also argues that states in which incumbent Democratic senators have faced tough challenges are competitive “only because of Trump” and the Republican party has “no better messenger.”

The memo says Trump has raised $83 million for House candidates running for re-election this year, and that he has campaigned with House candidates in 18 competitive or open seat districts since Aug. 1.

"It will be challenging," Stepien says of the GOP’s prospects of maintaining the House majority. But adds: "The House is still considered in play less than two weeks from Election Day."

Trump is trying energize his most loyal supporters as polls show Democrats in position to take control of the House.

The decision to send Trump to Florida twice illustrates the importance of the state not only in 2018, but in 2020, when Trump expects to run for re-election.

Trump has invested heavily in former Republican Representative Ron DeSantis’ bid to become the state’s next governor. Trump’s endorsement pushed DeSantis to victory in the GOP primary and a win for him in the general election would keep the nation’s biggest swing state under Republican control in the next presidential campaign.

The current governor, Republican Rick Scott, is seeking to unseat Democratic Senator Bill Nelson on Nov. 6. Nelson’s defeat would all but kill Democrats’ already slim chances of winning a Senate majority.

But both Republicans are in close contests. Nelson has a three-point lead in an average of polls compiled by RealClear Politics. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for governor, has maintained an edge over DeSantis in most recent polls.

Florida also is home to five Republican House members who are facing strong challenges from Democrats in the midterm election.

In Georgia and Ohio, Trump’s targets are likely rousing voters in races for governor, as Republican candidates in both states have strong competition.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.