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Trump Generally Sticks to Hammering Donnelly at Indiana Rally

Could be template for what Senate GOP wants to see from the president

President Donald Trump took his midterm campaign tour to North Dakota on Wednesday night, where Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp faces a tough re-election fight. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump took his midterm campaign tour to North Dakota on Wednesday night, where Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp faces a tough re-election fight. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Senate GOP leaders might be smiling after President Donald Trump’s rally Thursday evening.

The raucous event in Elkhart, Indiana, saw Trump deliver one of his typical campaign trail stem-winders, with plenty of reminders about the midterm elections and the importance to the president of replacing Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in November.

The only line that really fell flat came when Trump praise Bill Belichick, the head coach of the NFL’s New England Patriots. The Indianapolis Colts and their many fans in the Hoosier State believe that the Patriots intentionally made use of footballs that were not properly inflated during the 2015 AFC Championship Game.

But other than that, Trump came armed with plenty of campaign material against the incumbent Democratic senator, citing votes in favor of the 2010 health care overhaul and against Trump-backed efforts to roll back regulations and tighten immigration controls.

“Think of that. Why in the world would anybody be voting against enhanced vetting?” Trump asked, rhetorically.

An in Trump-on-the-stump fashion, the president had a nickname for Donnelly, as well, calling him “Sleepin’ Joe.”

He said Donnelly four times voted in support of the international nuclear agreement with Iran, which Trump pulled the United States back from on Tuesday.

When the Senate debated immigration proposals in February, Donnelly was one of the small number of Democrats who cast a vote in favor of a proposal modeled on Trump’s agenda.

Watch: Ryan Talks DACA Solution, Pelosi Says Iran Deal Withdrawal ‘Dangerous’

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And after congratulating businessman Mike Braun on his victory in Indiana’s Republican Senate primary on Tuesday, he brought Braun onto the stage.

The photo op was at first less than perfect, with Braun appearing to try to get the president’s attention for a handshake as the new GOP Senate nominee was speaking, but Braun and Trump eventually got the photo.

“I’m a businessman and an outsider, just like our president. And you can count on me to be a true reinforcement and the guy that is going to retire Joe Donnelly,” Braun said.

The Trump approach is probably a template for what Senate Republicans and their campaign operations would like to see from the often unpredictable president.

Since the rally was in his home state of Indiana, Vice President Mike Pence made the trip and served as Trump’s warm up act, rattling off a list of administration accomplishments.

“Our president promised to enforce our laws and secure our borders. He’s already signed the biggest funding increase for border security in nearly a decade. He sent the National Guard to the Southern border, and this president secured funding for the first 100 miles of a new border wall,” Pence said.

“I’ll promise you, when it comes to that wall, we’re going to build it all,” Pence said.

“It’s okay that the President and Vice President are here today for politics, but problems only get solved when you roll up your sleeves and put in the hard work,” Donnelly said in a statement in response to the Trump-Pence rally, calling himself “Indiana’s hired help in the Senate.”

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