WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump returned to the campaign stage Tuesday, holding a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, where he praised senators for moving ahead on health care.
“We’re now one step closer to liberating our citizens from this Obamacare nightmare and delivering great health care for the American people,” he said before an enthusiastic crowd.
The rally comes as his administration remains steeped in turmoil over his criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and upheaval in his White House’s communications department.
For Trump, returning to the campaign trail for his sixth campaign rally as president marked a reprieve from the conflict in Washington.
“I’m back in the American heartland far away from the Washington swamp,” he said.
The President publicly fumed on Tuesday morning about a host of topics, sending a dozen tweets before noon about everything from his “very weak” attorney general to an open question about whether Republicans are “willing to step up to the plate” and make good on seven years of health care promises by starting debate on the Republican health care bill in the Senate.
After briefly getting interrupted by a protestor, Trump ran through a list of campaign objectives he said he was making good on, including immigration, building up the military and gun rights.
“Yes, our Second Amendment is very, very sound again. That would’ve been gonzo, it would have been gone, but I never had a doubt,” he said.
The President relishes his time before his crowds of supporters, so the Ohio visit offers him a much-needed reprieve from the stresses of Washington. Tuesday night’s event also brings Trump back to the site of one of his most critical victories of the 2016 election: Ohio.
Trump lost Mahoning County — where Youngstown sits — in the 2016 election to Democrat Hillary Clinton, but only narrowly, 49% to 46%. This a sizable break from past elections, where Democrat Barack Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney by nearly 30% in 2012 and Republican Sen. John McCain by 26% in 2008.
Trump ended up winning the entire Buckeye State by 8% in 2016 — shocking many within Clinton’s campaign. The visit to Youngstown, where the President will speak at the 6,000-person capacity Covelli Centre, will bring the businessman back to the base of white, working-class voters who helped propel him to the White House.
John McNally, the Democratic mayor of Youngstown, said he expects Trump to be well-received when he gets to the city.
“No matter how wild I may think the past six months have been, no matter the tweet storm that went out this morning on a variety of subjects, I think the people in Youngstown and Mahoning County and Trumbull County really appreciate the President’s no holds barred mentality toward those who he thinks oppose him,” he said Tuesday on CNN ahead of the rally.
In Washington, the cloud of an ongoing investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election has cast a pall over the Trump administration, subjecting aides and adviser to questioning by Senate committees and angering Trump. On Monday, Trump’s son-in-law and top aide Jared Kushner appeared before Senate intelligence committee to discuss a meeting with Russians during the 2016 election.
“Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning.
McNally said while some voters in Youngstown are aware of the Russia story, many aren’t focused on it.
“Some of that gets up in the stratosphere of political thought of Washington that folks here in Youngstown on a daily basis really aren’t focused in on,” he said, adding that his hope is Trump will “talk about the jobs he said would be created in areas like ours.”
So far, Trump’s 2020 campaign is already up and running, already raising money and hosting events across the country, including campaign events headlined by the president in Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Iowa.