August 22, 2018

Trump Hits Campaign Trail in Fight to Retain Congress

President Trump plans to step up his campaign appearances for Republican candidates ahead of the midterm elections, making trips to as many as 15 states in September as he looks to defy historical trends and retain GOP control of Congress, a person familiar with his plans said Tuesday.

Mr. Trump will hold up to eight campaign rallies next month alone and attend 16 fundraising events, instructing his staff to give him “as many days as possible on the road,” this person said.

At the same time, a pair of pro-Trump outside groups on Tuesday said they would soon make the first of several waves of midterm election spending designed both to boost Republican prospects in the midterms and help lay a foundation for Mr. Trump’s re-election bid in 2020.

Mr. Trump’s schedule follows a common practice among presidents who have hit the campaign trail to stave off losses among their congressional allies. Most, in their first term, haven’t had much success. The president’s party has shed House seats in 18 of the last 20 midterm elections, with an average loss of 29 seats.


The Trump-aligned outside groups assisting Mr. Ryan’s quest to hold the House are America First Action and America First Policies. They plan to make a combined initial expenditure of about $12.5 million in 10 congressional races and two Senate races considered especially competitive, officials said.

They will begin spending the money after Labor Day and anticipate additional purchases of TV, radio and digital ads as the November elections near, officials said.

Between them, the two groups raised about $50 million as of the end of the June.


“Looking closely at the big picture objective, 2020, we firmly believe that holding the House and growing the Senate are a critical part of helping the president get re-elected,” said Brian O. Walsh, president of America First Action, the primary pro-Trump super PAC.

Barred from coordinating with the White House, America First closely monitors Mr. Trump’s public statements for insights into his campaign priorities, officials said. “It’s been profoundly helpful following him on Twitter!” Mr. Walsh said.


America First’s entrance into the House contests comes months after Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC tied to Mr. Ryan, has spent tens of millions boosting its candidates.

Their spending patterns suggest differing priorities between the president’s coalition and House incumbents.


Of the 10 House districts in which America First Action intends to advertise, CLF has plans to spend money in just five.


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