President Trump continued his spate of rallies in the final days before next week’s midterm elections with a stop in Missouri Thursday night.
At an airplane hangar in Columbia, the president tried to boost the Show Me State’s Republican attorney general, Josh Hawley, who is challenging Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill. A Fox News poll published this week shows the pair tied, with each garnering 43 percent support among likely voters.
Trump described Hawley as a "Missouri patriot" and predicted that "in just five days, the people of Missouri are going to retire far-left Democrat Claire McCaskill," a remark that drew loud cheers from the audience.
"I need everyone to show up and vote, you've got to vote for Josh," Trump said. " ... He's a star in our country. He is going to be something special. He's going to represent you for a long time and he's going to represent you well ... Claire McCaskill promised to represent the people of Missouri, but she broke that promise and joined radical Democrats in Washington. She's not representing Missouri."
The president joked that McCaskill has "been saying such nice things about me," a reference to recent comments in which the senator supported Trump's move to send troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in a bid to prevent Central American migrants in a caravan from illegally crossing the frontier.
"She now, all of a sudden, loves border security," Trump said of McCaskill. "Where did that come from? ... The fact is, she wants to get elected, and then she's always going to vote against us, folks."
Trump won Missouri by 18 percentage points in 2016, and the state is considered to represent the best chance for Republicans to pick up a Senate seat and increase their slim majority in the upper chamber of Congress. When Hawley took the stage, he compared McCaskill to Trump's opponent in 2016, Hillary Clinton.
"Claire McCaskill has spent her lifetime in politics, just like Hillary. Claire McCaskill has made a boatload of money on federal taxpayers, just like Hillary," Hawley said. "Claire McCaskill even has a phony foundation that rakes in millions of dollars a year [and] pays no taxes, just like Hillary.
"Claire McCaskill wanted us to call Hillary Clinton Madame President," Hawley concluded. "Well, on November the 6th ... we're going to call Claire McCaskill fired."
The president arrived in Missouri fresh from announcing at the White House that his administration would require asylum-seekers to "lawfully present themselves" at a port of entry a move seemingly meant to deter members of the caravan from attempting to cross the U.S. border.
"Republicans want strong borders, no chaos and no caravans," said Trump. "We called up the military because we're not going to let people come into our country ... illegally. Not gonna happen."
"These are tough people," the president added, noting reports of violence by members of a second, smaller migrant caravan. "These are not angels. These are not little angels. These are tough people and we're not letting them into our country ... We want people to come into our country, but they have to come into our country legally and through merit."
McCaskill has been criticized by some of her fellow Democrats after she told Fox News’ “Special Report” earlier this week that was not a “crazy Democrat,” echoing a radio ad released by her campaign.
“We have a state senator here in Missouri that actually advocated for the assassination of President Trump,” McCaskill told anchor Bret Baier. “That’s a crazy Democrat.”
The lawmaker in question, Maria Chappelle-Nadal, responded on Twitter by calling McCaskill a “piece of s---“ and added that the senator “deserves to lose” and “is not a Democrat.”
Also this week, Hawley’s team accused McCaskill’s campaign of being behind mailers encouraging GOP-leaning voters to back third-party candidates. One mailer said Hawley could not be trusted to “protect our gun rights,” despite that candidate securing the National Rifle Association’s endorsement.
A McCaskill spokeswoman told the Kansas City Star that the senator condemned the mailers and would work to end so-called “dark money” efforts in politics.
Thursday’s rally was the second of 11 planned appearances by the president in key battleground states between Oct. 31 and Nov. 5. Former Vice President Joe Biden visited Missouri on Wednesday and the state will also host Trump’s final rally before Election Day.