President Donald Trump faces political headwinds as he seeks to reclaim Michigan in 2020 but will enter Thursday night's re-election rally in Grand Rapids with at least one major legal threat behind him.
The first-term Republican has appeared reinvigorated in recent days after confirmation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation did not establish collusion between Trump's 2016 campaign and the Russian government that interfered in the election.
While it may be premature — Mueller stopped short of exonerating the president on possible obstruction of justice, and his full report has not been made public — experts predict Trump will tout the news in his first public rally since the report's summary release.
The president will do so in front of thousands of supporters at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, a city where he capped his 2016 campaign with a raucous late-night rally and prediction of a victory few pundits had thought possible.
Like the president, Trump's supporters “feel vindicated” by U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report, said GOP strategist John Sellek.
‘It’s given them a huge boost of energy moving forward. So certainly, you’d expect the president to celebrate while he’s here in a state he needs to win again in 2020.”
While critics are calling for release of the full Mueller report, “I think Republicans are feeling emboldened by the results” of the summary, said Democratic strategist T.J. Bucholz.
Polls suggest some Michigan voters “have had a bit of buyer’s remorse” after voting for Trump three years ago, Bucholz said, citing auto industry uncertainty and complaints over middle-class tax returns despite Trump’s tax cut.
But Michigan could be the “canary in the coal mine for this country” in 2020 because voters here are interested in “hot issues” that could define the race, including Trump’s plan to build a wall at the nation’s southern border with Mexico, Bucholz said.
“I don’t think this is gonna be Donald Trump’s last stop here,” he added. “Donald Trump needs Michigan to break for him to win the presidency. Ohio is not the swing state it once was. Now the swing states are Michigan and Pennsylvania. He has to have both of those states if he’s going to win re-election.”
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