Politics Trump has his sights set on West Virginia for the fall

19:42  17 may  2018
19:42  17 may  2018 Source:   nbcnews.com

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Image: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a sign as he arrives at a rally in Huntington, West VirginiaPresident Donald Trump holds a sign as he arrives at a capmaign-style rally on Aug. 3, 2017 in Huntington, West Virginia.© Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC Image: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a sign as he arrives at a rally in Huntington, West VirginiaPresident Donald Trump holds a sign as he arrives at a capmaign-style rally on Aug. 3, 2017 in Huntington, West Virginia.

WASHINGTON — When President Donald Trump spent an hour with Senate Republicans over lunch in the Capitol Tuesday, he talked about the party's legislative and foreign policy accomplishments as well as their future policy agenda.

According to senators in the room, the president also spent a good chunk of time talking about the GOP's prospects in the midterm elections, with an almost singular focus on one state — West Virginia, where he predicted victory in November.

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He has his sights set on West Virginia ’s 3rd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Trump ’s falling approval rating and the energy around Ojeda are also promising signs for the Appalachian left.

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For sure, Republicans have a good shot at winning back a Senate seat from Democrats in the state, but political handicappers think that Missouri, North Dakota, Indiana and maybe even Florida are as good or even better opportunities to gain seats.

So why is Trump focused on West Virginia?

"He's popular there. That was the message," Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said.

Trump does remain popular in West Virginia, where he won with 69 percent of the vote in 2016, a larger margin than any other state. Other than Ohio and Pennsylvania (and Florida and New Jersey where he often travels to his properties in Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster) West Virginia is one of Trump's most commonly visited states as president.

Trump likes the state so much, he joked with senators during the lunch, that he might move there after the presidency.

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His Washington, DC, policy shop dissolved this fall after he failed to pay its staffers. But in crunch time before Election Day, Trump brought in an outside “But the technological backwash that you get from a stretch goal is pretty substantial.” Obama, following other presidential moonshots, has set goals of

“To the good individuals of West Virginia we've got, collectively, a very nice probability to maintain making an enormous distinction,” Trump wrote. The late opposition from Trump , who forged Blankenship as unelectable within the fall , appeared to have undermined his momentum.

Trump may have noticed a new poll in the state that put Democratic Senator Joe Manchin down by two points against Republican Patrick Morrissey, who just became the GOP nominee last week. The previous poll, done in August of last year, had Manchin up for 14 points.

"According to the information from yesterday, there was a 17-point drop in the popularity of the incumbent there," Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said.

Manchin, the incumbent Republicans are trying to beat, said that Trump is wrong about what will unfold in the Mountaineer State this fall.

"I think he knows better than that, but you know what, he's always invited," Manchin told NBC News. "When the president comes to West Virginia, it's exciting times and we all enjoy having him. We have a good relationship and he has to do what he has to do and he knows I'm going to win."

Image: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks to the media as he arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating Russian interference in U.S. electionsSen. Joe Manchin speaks to the media on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.© Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC Image: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks to the media as he arrives for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing evaluating Russian interference in U.S. electionsSen. Joe Manchin speaks to the media on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

Manchin has been saddling up to the president. He has voted for most of Trump's political nominees and just last week he gave a glowing public assessment of Gina Haspel, the controversial nominee to lead the CIA. Manchin, the former governor of the state, has voted with president 61 percent of the time in all, according to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight.

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This was, indeed, the place to do it: West Virginia handed Trump his largest margin over Clinton: 42%. Later, a camera panned to Trump , standing to the side of the stage as Justice spoke. In what has come to be a rare sight , the president looked pleased.

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West Virginia just completed a brutal Republican primary where Trump is likely feeling vindicated. After a series of candidates in different race who have lost despite Trump's endorsement, his participation may have helped the GOP field a good candidate in this race.

The president urged West Virginia voters to support either Morrissey or another establishment candidate over ex-coal baron and convicted felon Dan Blankenship who was running as a Trump-like candidate. Blakenship himself said Trump's actions may have been a contributing factor in his loss.

Manchin has not spent any money in the race yet (although the Democratic super PAC Senate Majority Fund has run ads supporting Manchin), while Republicans have spent $300,000 in the state.

Still, control of the Senate could rest on the outcome in West Virginia, ensuring that the state is going to be hotly contested on both sides. Manchin insists, however, that he and Trump are on the same team.

"This is not a team sport. This is team America. And I think at the end of the day he's on the same team as I am: Team America," Manchin said.

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