Trump puts himself at centre of campaigning for Midterms

By The New Zealand Herald

Squint and it could be 2016. Donald Trump on a campaign stage, ad-libbing his way through an 80-minute speech as his supporters go wild.

Crowd members chanting “lock her up” at every mention of Hillary Clinton and booing the “fake news” media. “Make America Great Again” hats are everywhere. The only giveaway is the podium, which now sports a presidential seal.

Trump has returned to where he feels most at home — on the campaign trail. With the Midterm elections three months away, he is ramping up his engagements for members of Congress. He has attended three swing-state rallies in five days — in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio yesterday. A special election will be held on Wednesday in an Ohio district Trump won by 11 per cent in 2016.

In Columbus, Ohio, Trump steered clear of the trouble he stirred up when he blasted one of Ohio’s favourite sons, LeBron James.

Trump had derided the intelligence of one of America’s most prominent African-American men. The attack on James, who has been critical of Trump, came just as the NBA superstar opened a school for underprivileged children. First lady Melania Trump distanced herself from the broadside, which resembled a racial dog whistle, and praised James’ efforts. Trump used similar rhetoric attacking Democrat congresswoman Maxine Waters, who is also black. He called her “an extremely low IQ person.”

At the rally, Trump bragged how the GOP candidates he’s opposed have lost. Most at risk for the President’s party is the House of Representatives, where every member faces re-election.

If the Republicans lose two dozen of their 236 seats, the Democrats take control, securing a majority that could block Trump’s plans — or begin impeachment proceedings. The Senate, also in Republican hands, is less at risk. Just a third of the seats are up for grabs and most of those are already held by Democrats.

Judging by historical data — which shows new presidents get whacked at their first Midterms, especially if they have Trump’s low opinion ratings — the Republicans will lose the House.

The question is whether turning out Trump loyalists is enough to win in toss-up congressional districts or if the Republican path to victory depends more on capturing a share of independents and suburban women turned off by Trump. A poll of polls run by FiveThirtyEight shows just 41 per cent of Americans approve of the job he is doing — lower than most post-1945 presidents at the same point. Some Republicans warn Trump’s outsized media presence is drowning out the messages of congressional candidates.—Telegraph Group Ltd, AP

This article provided by NewsEdge.