Trump fires up base at rally in Le­banon

Democrats protest­ing out­side the fair­grounds say, ‘We de­serve bet­ter.’

Dayton Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Will Garbe Staff Writer

Pres­i­dent Don­ald LE­BANON —

Trump made his pitch Fri­day at the War­ren County Fair­grounds for send­ing Repub­li­cans back to Wash­ing­ton in Novem­ber, telling them the U.S. is “now the hottest coun­try any­where in the world.”

“We are here to make sure that our amaz­ing progress con­tin­ues full speed ahead,” Trump said. “Amer­ica is thriv­ing. And Amer­ica is win­ning. And we are view­ing now, for the first time in many decades, a phe­nom­ena called, so sim­ply, ‘Amer­ica First.’”

“The peo­ple of Ohio can save Amer­ica from rad­i­cal Democrats,” he said. “We have to elect a Repub­li­can House and a Repub­li­can Sen­ate.”

The pres­i­dent’s visit to the tra­di­tion­ally con­ser­va­tive War­ren County in­jected him into a tight race be­tween 1st Con­gres­sional Dis­trict in­cum­bent U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincin­nati, and Demo­crat Aftab Pureval, a Beaver­creek na­tive and the Hamil­ton County Clerk of Courts.

Chabot’s race is re­garded as one of the tight­est in the coun­try. The dis­trict in­cludes swaths of Cincin­nati and all of War­ren County.

The War­ren County stop was part of a 10-day, six-state cam­paign­ing trip to drum up sup­port for Repub­li­cans in tight U.S. House races ahead of the midterm elec­tions, which are his­tor­i­cally chal­leng­ing for the party hold­ing the White House. Trump has per­son­ally char­ac­ter­ized the midterms as a ref­er­en­dum on his first two years in of­fice.

GOP al­lies who spoke ahead of Trump’s ad­dress re­minded sup­port­ers of the pres­i­dent’s reliance on Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans. To­gether, they re­formed the tax code and con­firmed two jus­tices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“You don’t want to see higher taxes or more reg­u­la­tions,” said U.S. Sen. Rob Port­man, who in 2016 said he would not vote for or sup­port Trump fol­low­ing the in­fa­mous “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” tape leak.

“We can do even more as Repub­li­cans if we had more of us.”

The pres­i­dent gave his “love” to the sur­vivors of Hur­ri­cane Michael, which ripped across the South­east over the past sev­eral days, killing 16 and dev­as­tat­ing Flor­ida’s pan­han­dle.

Be­fore his rally, thou­sands of peo­ple queued down the fair­ground’s long gravel race­track lead­ing to the se­cu­rity check­point. One-by-one, they filed into the open-air pav­il­ion. Two yel­low Cater­pil­lar ex­ca­va­tors hoisted an Amer­i­can flag be­hind the iconic blue pres­i­den­tial podium. The U.S. Se­cret Ser­vice did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to an in­quiry about the num­ber of at­ten­dees.

“I am re­ally sur­prised we can fit this many peo­ple in our lit­tle town,” Le­banon res­i­dent Sheila Gab­bard said as she walked along the track lead­ing to the rally area en­trance be­fore the rally.

Kyle Hart­man of Canal Winch­ester was the first in line Fri­day when the gates opened. He spent the night on the side­walk in front of the fair­grounds for a bet­ter out­come than when he couldn’t get into a rally at Olen­tangy High School in Delaware County sev­eral months ago.

“That up­set me a lit­tle bit,” Hart­man said. I wanted to make sure that I was go­ing to make it, num­ber one. And num­ber two, I thought it would be re­ally cool to be up front. I have a lot of re­spect for this Pres­i­dent.”

Luke Clif­ford, who works for an equip­ment com­pany in Franklin, said he will vote straight Repub­li­can down this Novem­ber’s bal­lot. He voted for the pres­i­dent in 2016 and re­mains pleased with his per­for­mance in of­fice.

“I like pretty much ev­ery­thing he’s done,” Clif­ford said. “It’s time we had a pres­i­dent that, what­ever he said on the cam­paign trail, he’s ac­tu­ally get­ting done. It never seems to hap­pen, and he’s do­ing it.

Among the politi­cians in at­ten­dance were U.S. Rep. Jim Re­nacci, R-Wadsworth, who is run­ning for U.S. Sen­ate, and Ohio Sec­re­tary of State Jon Husted, who is run­ning for lieu­tenant gover­nor.

Husted’s up-ticket run­ning mate, Ohio At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mike DeWine, passed out copies of his wife Fran’s cook­books ahead of the event, but said he would duck out be­fore the pres­i­dent’s ar­rival to at­tend a long-sched­uled fundraiser in Beaver­creek.

Democrats coun­tered the rally with one of their own.

Chris Olinger and Lorie Luyrink cam­paigned for Demo­cratic can­di­dates out­side the fair­grounds. The counter rally par­tic­i­pants held signs say­ing “We de­serve bet­ter” and oth­ers ref­er­enc­ing Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh.

“Ev­ery­thing’s both­er­ing me, but the Ka­vanaugh in­ves­ti­ga­tion put me right over the edge,” said Kathy Thomp­son of Brunswick.

In a call ahead of the rally, U.S. Rep. Mar­cia Fudge, D-Cleve­land, said Trump “knows he’s turned off lots of these vot­ers, so he’s try­ing to get them back in the base be­cause if they can’t, they lose Ohio. He’s try­ing to do ev­ery­thing he can to make up to the peo­ple he had al­ready turned off.”

Staff Writer Lawrence Budd, News Cen­ter 7 Re­porter Jim Otte, and Wash­ing­ton Bu­reau cor­re­spon­dent Jes­sica Wehrman con­trib­uted re­port­ing.

JIM OTTE / STAFF

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump held a cam­paign rally Fri­day night the War­ren County Fair­grounds in Le­banon. “We are here to make sure that our amaz­ing progress con­tin­ues full speed ahead,” he said. “Amer­ica is thriv­ing. And Amer­ica is win­ning.”

GABRIELLA DEMCZUK/THE NEW YORK TIMES JIM OTTE / STAFF

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks to re­porters af­ter step­ping off Air Force One at Cincin­nati Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port on Fri­day. Thou­sands showed up to lis­ten to Trump on Fri­day night at the War­ren County Fair­grounds in Le­banon.

JIM OTTE / STAFF

I am “sur­prised we can fit this many peo­ple in our lit­tle town,” said Le­banon res­i­dent Sheila Gab­bard.

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