Trump makes fi­nal push to help flip Se­nate seats

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Nation - BY DAR­LENE SU­PERVILLE As­so­ci­ated Press


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump made clear Satur­day dur­ing a cam­paign stop in Mon­tana that he wants to de­feat Demo­cratic Sen. Jon Tester over a per­sonal grudge as much as po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tion.

Trump blames Tester for the de­feat of his nom­i­nee to run the De­part­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs. The pres­i­dent told hun­dreds of cheer­ing sup­port­ers at an air­port rally in the Mon­tana chill that Tester “tried to de­stroy” Ronny Jack­son, an ad­mi­ral and White House doc­tor.

“That’s why I’m here,” he said. “I’ve never for­got­ten it and it’s hon­estly one of the rea­sons I’m here so much,” said Trump, who last cam­paigned in Mon­tana in mid-Oc­to­ber. “It’s a dis­grace, what he did to that man.”

Trump was in Mon­tana to boost GOP Se­nate can­di­date Matt Rosendale, who is chal­leng­ing Tester in Tues­day’s elec­tion . The ral­lies are part of Trump’s mul­ti­state blitz in the fi­nal days be­fore Tues­day’s elec­tions, when con­trol of the House and Se­nate — and per­haps the fu­ture of Trump’s agenda — are at stake

Trump said hav­ing Rosendale in the Se­nate will be “phe­nom­e­nal.”

The pres­i­dent blames Tester for the back­lash against Jack­son, who even­tu­ally with­drew his nom­i­na­tion af­ter fac­ing anony­mous ethics al­le­ga­tions, in­clud­ing claims of on-the­job drunk­en­ness and wreck­ing a govern­ment ve­hi­cle.

Jack­son de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

Tester, the top Demo­crat on the Se­nate com­mit­tee that over­sees vet­er­ans’ is­sues, had re­leased a list of the al­le­ga­tions against Jack­son that was com­piled by the com­mit­tee’s Demo­cratic staff.

Trump, how­ever, doesn’t men­tion that the al­le­ga­tions weren’t the only fac­tor that con­trib­uted Jack­son with­draw­ing from con­sid­er­a­tion. Law­mak­ers ques­tioned Jack­son’s lim­ited man­age­rial ex­pe­ri­ence and his fit­ness to run a de­part­ment as sprawl­ing as the VA.

Mon­tana was the first of two cam­paign stops for Trump on Satur­day. He was due in Pen­sacola, Florida, on Satur­day night, join­ing Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence to cam­paign for Repub­li­cans Rick Scott, the gover­nor who is run­ning for the Se­nate, and Ron DeSan­tis, a for­mer con­gress­man who is vy­ing to suc­ceed Scott.

Trump sought in Mon­tana to rally the crowd, which was bun­dled up against the Novem­ber chill, by talk­ing up the econ­omy and tax cuts, new Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh, bor­der se­cu­rity and sev­eral car­a­vans of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants who are slowly ad­vanc­ing to­ward the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der.

He men­tioned plans for a new mil­i­tary branch called the Space Force, and com­plained anew about the news me­dia.

Trump de­fended his de­ci­sion to fo­cus al­most ex­clu­sively on the mi­grants and im­mi­gra­tion in the fi­nal days be­fore the elec­tion. He re­cently an­nounced that he in­tends to change asy­lum pro­ce­dures, end the con­sti­tu­tional guar­an­tee of birthright cit­i­zen­ship and build numer­ous “tent cities” to hold mi­grants caught cross­ing the bor­der il­le­gally.

“You can only say so many times that we cre­ated 250,000 jobs last month,” Trump said, in de­fense of his fo­cus on im­mi­gra­tion that some of the pres­i­dent’s crit­ics say amounts to fear­mon­ger­ing. Trump has de­nied try­ing to in­still fear as a rea­son to vote Repub­li­can on Elec­tion Day.

“When we’re fix­ing a prob­lem or fixed a prob­lem there’s no rea­son to go on about it for 45 min­utes,” Trump said.

Trump also called up Rep. Greg Gian­forte to speak from the podium but did not re­peat his praise of the con­gress­man, who was con­victed of body slam­ming a jour­nal­ist just be­fore win­ning a 2017 spe­cial elec­tion. Trump had said dur­ing last month’s Mon­tana stop that any­one who can do a body slam “is my kind of guy.”

The pres­i­dent sub­se­quently was crit­i­cized for seem­ing to glo­rify vi­o­lence against jour­nal­ists.


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump lis­tens at a rally in Bel­grade, Mon­tana, as U.S. Se­nate can­di­date Matt Rosendale speaks dur­ing the fi­nal week­end be­fore the midterm elec­tions on Tues­day.

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