President Trump is in his happy place – the campaign trail.
With the crucial midterm elections just over two weeks away, he’s headlining up to four rallies a week – and staging many of them in toss-up districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
It may be a sign he believes his own hype, that the Democrats’ chances of a big win on Nov. 6 have receded and the GOP could buck trends. The party controlling the White House historically loses seats in Congress in the first midterm after a presidential election.
“You know, I think that blue wave is being rapidly shattered,” Trump told a boisterous crowd in Elko, Nev. on Saturday.
“All the Democrats want is power, and they’ve got this blue wave deal going,” he said. “Not looking like a blue wave.”
“You know, I think that blue wave is being rapidly shattered. All the Democrats want is power, and they’ve got this blue wave deal going. Not looking like a blue wave.”
Trump was in remote Elko, a town of less than 20,000 in northeast Nevada, on the first day of early voting in the state to push the re-election bid of Sen. Dean Heller, the GOP’s most endangered senator.
The two were once bitter enemies. Heller opposed Trump throughout the 2016 primaries and, ahead of the election, said he was “99 percent against him.”
What a difference a midterm makes.
“Mr. President, you know a little bit about gold,” Heller said Saturday. “In fact, I think everything you touch turns to gold.”
Their fence-mending reflects a remarkable shift within a Republican Party whose leaders were once almost completely hostile to the outsider president.
“Today there is zero daylight between Trump and the Republicans,” said Minneapolis political blogger John Hinderaker. “If you want to see where the Republican Party is at, go to a Trump rally.”
While Trump’s nationwide approval rating stands around 44 percent, he is hugely popular in many areas between the coasts.
His campaign travels so far in October have concentrated almost exclusively on the American heartland – places like Arizona, Kansas and Ohio. And he’s not just trying to protect vulnerable GOP incumbents.
In blue and purple cities like Rochester, Minn., and Missoula, Mont., Trump’s one-man show seemed to be aimed at encouraging his under-the-radar supporters to come out of hiding.
“Rochester, Minn., is a very moderate place,” Hinderaker said.
The city went for Clinton in 2016 by a 1 percent margin, and both Senate seats are in Democrats’ hands.
“He turned out a huge, enthusiastic crowd for a rally that was happy, upbeat and inspirational” on Oct. 2, Hinderaker said. “Afterward, people were tweeting out, ‘I love America.’ I think that feeling carries over even to people who didn’t attend.”
“Enthusiasm & Spirit is through the roof,” Trump tweeted after his Oct. 13 rally in Richmond, Ky. “SOMETHING BIG IS HAPPENING – WATCH!”