President Donald 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.”
>>PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT HERE<<
“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 president also 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.
The president’s visit to the traditionally conservative Warren County injects 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.
The race is regarded as one of the tightest in the country. The district includes swaths of Cincinnati.
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.
Though previously in Ohio at the at the 2016 Republican National Convention then-candidate Trump said “I alone can fix” the nation’s woes, GOP allies who spoke ahead of his 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 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.”
Rallygoers 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 after arriving late.
“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.”
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