Rally time: President Trump aims to make impeachment a political asset

President Donald Trump arrives for an event on "transparency in Federal guidance and enforcement" in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The rally set for Thursday night in Minneapolis is the first since Democrats began proceedings two weeks ago to remove him from office.

Posted: Oct 10, 2019 1:51 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — President Donald Trump is trying to convert the impeachment investigation in Washington into a political asset, with three reelection rallies over the next eight days.

The rally set for Thursday night in Minneapolis is the first since Democrats began proceedings two weeks ago to remove him from office. It will serve as a proving ground for the president as he tries to use the impeachment inquiry to energize supporters for his 2020 campaign.

The rally, scheduled before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the impeachment investigation, comes at a pivotal moment for Trump. His campaign strategy is focused on motivating his core supporters, rather than trying to win over a diminishing number of undecided voters, and the resonance of his appeal to the faithful may determine his second-term chances.

Trump has lashed out in acerbic tweets and public statements at Democrats, the media and even some Republicans as impeachment has dominated the national headlines. He has claimed that he is the victim of a "coup," although impeachment is a constitutional process, and accused Democrats of trying to undo the 2016 election.

White House officials expected Trump to echo those themes in Minnesota, much as he tried to paint himself as the victim during special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Polls show Americans' support for removing him from office has ticked up since House Democrats launched the impeachment inquiry.

His GOP allies have launched a countrywide campaign to try to reverse that trend and inflict political pain on vulnerable Democrats who are supporting the House investigation.

Both Democrats and Republicans are tuned in to the symbolism of the moment.

The rally at Target Center, the city's basketball arena, was expected to draw thousands of supporters as well as protesters outside. Trump was to be joined by Vice President Mike Pence, who had a separate schedule of appearances in the state Trump is trying to tip his way next year.

Trump fell about 45,000 votes short of beating Democrat Hillary Clinton statewide in 2016. He has had staff in the state since June busy building a network to turn out supporters next November.

Attacks on the "socialist" wing of the Democratic Party are the heart of Trump's plan to hold onto the Rust Belt and become the first Republican presidential candidate to carry Minnesota since Richard Nixon in 1972.

But the state has additional significance as the home of Rep. Ilhan Omar, the Somali-American lawmaker whom Trump often holds up as a symbol of the liberal shift in her party.

Trump has tweeted that Omar should "go back" to her home country if she wants to criticize the United States, and Trump supporters broke into chants of "Send her back!" at a rally this summer in North Carolina. Both incidents drew widespread condemnation from otherwise stalwart Trump supporters, who called the chants racist and urged the president to condemn them.

Some lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and some of the president's closest outside advisers privately warned Trump about the damage those chants could inflict on the GOP, according to four Republicans close to the White House who were not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations.

They believed the sight of thousands of mostly white attendees chanting "Send her back!" would dominate news coverage and turn off moderate voters, particularly women and suburban residents.

Trump has held four rallies since then. The chant has not erupted.

Now advisers fear the restraint won't last as Trump, already angered by the impeachment probe, heads to Omar's district.

On Friday, Trump planned a rally in Louisiana against Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. Aides said Trump is not endorsing one of the GOP candidates in the race before Saturday's election to maximize the chances that Edwards falls below the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

Next week Trump is set to hold a rally in Dallas, a GOP stronghold in a state that has grown more competitive for Democrats in recent cycles.

At a White House event on Wednesday, Trump made it clear he was looking forward to Thursday's rally in Minnesota.

"I think it's a great state, and we're going to have a lot of fun," he said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37624

Reported Deaths: 1503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12150785
Ramsey4805226
Stearns234519
Dakota228690
Anoka2180107
Nobles16626
Olmsted110115
Washington106940
Mower9452
Rice8357
Scott7004
Clay58538
Kandiyohi5701
Wright4565
Blue Earth4532
Todd4002
Carver3641
Lyon3092
Sherburne3075
Freeborn2900
Steele2281
Watonwan2160
Benton2143
St. Louis17715
Martin1635
Nicollet15912
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1298
Winona12215
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
Le Sueur981
Chisago971
Otter Tail931
McLeod880
Carlton850
Dodge840
Polk812
Chippewa781
Unassigned7637
Isanti720
Itasca6412
Waseca640
Douglas620
Meeker611
Morrison591
Murray580
Becker550
Faribault550
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington500
Pipestone371
Mille Lacs342
Renville322
Wabasha310
Brown302
Rock300
Yellow Medicine300
Beltrami290
Fillmore280
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood180
Cass152
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Roseau130
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30975

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6464179
Woodbury321544
Black Hawk225258
Buena Vista171111
Johnson12648
Dallas126329
Linn126282
Marshall104319
Scott77810
Story7623
Pottawattamie72111
Wapello70630
Dubuque68322
Crawford6772
Muscatine62944
Sioux4630
Tama46229
Wright3801
Louisa36013
Jasper32317
Plymouth3165
Warren2731
Dickinson2642
Washington2369
Webster2132
Hamilton1871
Cerro Gordo1561
Boone1481
Clay1330
Clarke1312
Allamakee1284
Mahaska11517
Shelby1140
Clinton1071
Poweshiek1048
Carroll961
Pocahontas941
Bremer926
Franklin890
Des Moines882
Henry863
Emmet850
Cedar821
Taylor790
Monona760
Cherokee751
Floyd722
Hardin700
Marion700
Guthrie664
Benton651
Sac630
Jefferson590
Osceola590
Jones560
Humboldt541
Butler532
Harrison530
Lee532
Hancock510
Iowa510
Buchanan501
Monroe506
Calhoun492
Delaware491
Fayette480
Madison452
Clayton433
Lyon410
Palo Alto410
Davis391
Winneshiek380
Grundy370
Mitchell370
Mills360
Howard350
Kossuth340
Lucas304
Greene290
Jackson290
Chickasaw280
Winnebago280
Union270
Ida230
Cass220
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
Van Buren200
Worth190
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Adair150
Ringgold150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont70
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