By Agence France-Presse
President Donald Trump shrugged off signs of trouble in midterm congressional elections, telling supporters in Minnesota on Thursday that his bruising fight to get Brett Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court will galvanize a surprise victory.
“This is supposed to be a Democrat state,” he told a roaring crowd in Rochester, in the heart of Minnesota farm country.
“They have a very big surprise coming, don’t you think?”
The supporters — many decked out in the red hats of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and already gathering 2020 reelection bid — cheered wildly.
Polls point to a possible retaking of the House of Representatives by the Democrats on November 6, with a tough fight for the Senate also in the cards.
Even losing just the lower house would end the Republican grip on Congress that has given Trump a free ride in the first two years of his controversy-filled presidency.
It would also open the way to Democrat-chaired House committees opening probes into sensitive areas like Trump’s financial arrangements, which have so far been largely off limits.
But at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Trump was in bullish mood.
To cries of “I love you Donald!” he insisted that the extraordinarily bitter struggle over Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation would ignite Republican victory.
Kavanaugh’s once near-certain confirmation ran into a minefield of sex assault allegations, quickly transforming into a pitched political battle that Democrats believe will hurt Republicans among women and independent voters.
But hours after senators in Washington indicated they were nearing a confirmation vote over the weekend, Trump told the nationally televised audience that Democrats had miscalculated.
“All you have to do is look at the polls over the last three or four days and it shows that their rage-fueled resistance is starting to backfire at a level that nobody has ever seen before,” he said to ear-splitting cheers.
Americans are more deeply divided than they have been for years, but in a series of campaign rallies around the country, Trump is trying to ensure that his fervent base will make its voice heard in the crucial elections.
Disgust with Washington politicians, pride in the military, celebration of the booming economy, rejection of trade deals, disdain for journalists — Trump hit all his talking points in Minnesota and the crowd loved it.
“Drain the swamp, drain the swamp!” they chanted.
“We love him. He’s done so much for the country. He’s done amazing things on trade and he’s not scared of other countries,” one supporter, Chris Layfield, 70, said.
“It’s the first time the country’s been shaken up after so many other presidents all followed what the one before did,” she said, echoing a widespread desire to end business as usual in Washington’s sometimes near dysfunctional politics.
Unable to get a seat in the main arena, Layfield went to watch a big screen in the overflow room — and hoping Trump might even come through the heavily guarded doors from the arena.
“I really just want to see his face in person,” she said.