Home / World News / After Alabama loss, Trump has ambitious plans to campaign in 2018 midterms – The Denver Post

After Alabama loss, Trump has ambitious plans to campaign in 2018 midterms – The Denver Post

President Donald Trump is not on the ballot in 2018, but the White House is planning a full-throttle campaign to plunge the president into the midterm elections, according to senior officials and advisers familiar with the planning.

Trump’s political aides have met with 116 candidates for office in recent months, according to senior White House officials, seeking to become involved in Senate, House and gubernatorial races – and possibly contested Republican primaries as well.

The president has told advisers he wants to travel extensively and hold rallies and that he is looking forward to spending much of 2018 campaigning. He has also told aides that the election would largely determine what he can get done – and that he expects he would be blamed for losses, such as last week’s humiliating defeat that handed an Alabama Senate seat to a Democrat for the first time in 25 years.

“For the president, this isn’t about adulation and cheering crowds,” White House political director Bill Stepien said in an interview. “This is about electing and re-electing Republicans.”

But getting deeply involved in the midterms could be a highly risky strategy for a president with historically low approval ratings, now hovering in the mid- to low-30s in many national polls, and might be particularly disruptive in primary contests pitting establishment candidates against pro-Trump insurgents. Last week’s upset in Alabama – where Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican nominee Roy Moore – came after Trump endorsed two losing candidates in both the primary and special election.

Many Democrats also say they relish the idea of being able to run against Trump.

“He absolutely is turbocharging the opposition. My guess is most of the people running for office in 2018 are not going to want to cleave too closely to him,” said David Axelrod, former President Barack Obama’s chief strategist. “He torques up both side, but he torques up the opposition more. He is the greatest organizing tool that Democrats could have.”

Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors’ Association, said “we look forward to everything that comes out of the president’s iPhone.”

In coming months, Stepien is planning nearly daily meetings with potential candidates from around the country and aims to give Trump endorsement recommendations by the spring, officials said. The White House is also working with the Republican National Committee to discuss the strongest fundraising opportunities for Trump, they said.

Stepien meets with Trump weekly to talk about the 2018 slate, poll numbers, candidates, their issues and their level of agreement with Trump, and he also regularly convenes with Chief of Staff John Kelly and other senior aides on the midterm outlook, officials said. Trump, senior officials said, has shown particular interest in certain races, including Republican senatorial candidate Josh Hawley in Missouri and the possibilities of Senate bids by Gov. Rick Scott of Florida and Gov. Paul LePage of Maine.

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