Returning to a battleground state that was key to his victory in 2016, President Donald Trump will kick off a new phase of his campaign when he travels to Michigan on Thursday.
Call it the post-Mueller phase.
Buoyed by a summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that found “no collusion” with Russia, Trump is certain to highlight those findings at a time when he is also reasserting his agenda on health care, trade and other issues.
The political symbolism of Michigan is hard to miss: A triumphant president, free from a cloud that hung over the White House for months, will return to Grand Rapids, the site of the final rally of his 2016 campaign that some analysts believe pushed him over the edge to victory in the Wolverine State.
But Trump will find a more complicated landscape when he arrives in the state he won by less than one percentage point in 2016. Democrats won all four statewide races in Michigan in last year’s midterm and polls show Trump’s approval there is below the national average.
The Thursday night rally will be Trump’s first in the Rust Belt since last year’s midterm election.
“This is his entry back into the Midwest,” said Steve Mitchell a pollster and Republican strategist based in East Lansing. “But I believe Michigan is going to be very difficult for him to take in 2020 unless there’s a viable third-party candidate.”
Promoting his Grand Rapids visit on Twitter, Trump said he “will be talking about the many exciting things that are happening to our Country,” including the automobile industry that is central to Michigan’s economy.
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SOURCE: John Fritze and David Jackson, USA TODAY