WASHINGTON (AP) — From President Donald Trump to Oprah Winfrey, top political surrogates are fanning out in key battleground states to appeal to voters during the final days of the 2018 midterm campaigns.
Trump rallied his most loyal supporters in Columbia, Missouri, on Thursday night to boost the fortunes of Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley in his razor-thin contest against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Vice President Mike Pence barnstormed Georgia for Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, while Ivanka Trump jetted to Nevada for Republican Sen. Dean Heller.
Democrats, meanwhile, enlisted Winfrey’s help to motivate Democrats and crossover voters in Georgia’s race for governor. Democrat Stacey Abrams is vying to become the nation’s first black female governor in her race against Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was headed to North Dakota to help Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who is among the most vulnerable Senate Democrats and who has trailed Republican Kevin Cramer in public polling.
A look at campaign activities on Thursday:
OPRAH VS. PENCE
Oprah Winfrey delivered a rousing speech in the Republican-leaning suburbs of Atlanta, urging voters to make history by backing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in next week’s election.
Winfrey promoted Abrams as Vice President Mike Pence campaigned for Republican Brian Kemp in one of the nation’s highest-profile gubernatorial races.
Winfrey praised Abrams as a “changemaker” and drew cheers when she said she’s a registered independent who was not in Georgia at anyone’s request. “I paid to come here myself, and I approved this message,” Winfrey said.
Pence was making three campaign stops for Kemp across Georgia. He told GOP supporters, “I’d like to remind Stacey and Oprah and Will Ferrell, I’m kind of a big deal, too,” Pence said, referencing a Ferrell line from the film “Anchorman.” Ferrell campaigned in the state earlier this week.
“I’ve got a message for all of Stacey Abrams’ liberal Hollywood friends: This ain’t Hollywood. This is Georgia,” Pence said.
Campaigning in Missouri, Trump said voters must decide whether they want a booming America or want to allow the Democratic leadership in Congress and McCaskill to “wipe it all away.”
Trump spoke Thursday night in Columbia, Missouri, in his second rally in an 11-stop, eight-state tour designed to coax Republican voters to the polls.
Trump is supporting Hawley, who is seeking to unseat McCaskill, in a state Trump won by nearly 19 percentage points. Their Senate contest is one of the tightest in the nation.
Hawley sought to link McCaskill to Hillary Clinton, saying the senator wanted voters to call Clinton “Madam President” and McCaskill had spent a lifetime in politics “just like Hillary.” He said on Election Day, voters would call McCaskill “fired.”
Utah Senate candidate Mitt Romney pushed back against Trump’s branding of the American media as an “enemy of the people,” writing that it diminishes a critical institution to democracy.
In a blog post on his campaign website, Romney responded to Trump’s comments earlier in the week. Trump argued that “fraudulent” reporting on protests during his visit to a Pittsburgh synagogue and a nationwide mail-bomb scare targeting prominent Democrats contributed to anger in the country and that the press was the “true Enemy of the People.”
Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor, said every president has endured inaccurate stories, but “no American president has ever before vilified the American press or one of its professional outlets as an ‘Enemy of the People.'”
Romney added: “I cannot conceive of thinking or saying that the media or any responsible news organization is an enemy. The media is essential to our Republic, to our freedom, to the cause of freedom abroad, and to our national security. It is very much our friend.”
Los Angeles attorney Michael Avenatti, who represents porn actress Stormy Daniels and is considering a 2020 presidential bid, is launching his first political ad ahead of the midterm elections.
The Democrat tweeted out a clip of the 80-second digital ad for The Fight PAC. It features a litany of people who warn that they are “mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore” and are frustrated by “the lies,” ”the cover-ups” and “the bigotry.”
Avenatti then appears on camera and says, “Our constitution says, ‘We the people, not ‘Me the president,'” he says. “Stand up. Join the fight club. Use your vote as your voice on Nov. 6.”
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren urged college students in Ohio to vote for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, praising him as “the nerd we need.”
Warren headlined rallies Thursday at Ohio State University in Columbus and at Ohio University in Athens to help Cordray, who has been assailed by Trump.
The president has called Cordray a “far-left disciple” of Warren, a potential 2020 presidential contender whom Trump frequently mocks.
Cordray led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that Warren promoted. He faces state Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican, in a tight race for governor.
Ivanka Trump was hitting the campaign trail for two Republican candidates in the closing days of the midterms.
In Reno, Nevada, the first daughter praised Sen. Dean Heller for the role he played in passing the tax overhaul and the doubling of the child tax credit that came with it.
Ivanka Trump said she doesn’t do much campaigning but wanted to make a point of coming to Nevada to appear on Heller’s behalf.
Heller, who faces Democrat Jacky Rosen, said that “This is a close race” but that he’s never seen the Republican Party in Nevada this well-organized in a nonpresidential year.
Ivanka Trump was set to appear Friday with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in West Des Moines, helping a governor with whom she has connected on workforce and education issues.
Trump is a senior White House adviser to her father, but both stops were being made in her personal capacity.
One surrogate who is unlikely to join the president for his final blitz of campaign rallies is his wife, Melania Trump.
The president often talks at his rallies about how popular she is and what a great job he thinks she’s doing as first lady. Trump opened a six-day, 11-rally blitz on Wednesday night in Florida that will largely keep him on the road through Election Day. But Mrs. Trump is not expected to do any campaigning on her own.
Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman, says Mrs. Trump’s schedule, including holiday preparations at the White House and upcoming international travel with the president, preclude her from joining him as he urges supporters to vote Republican in Tuesday’s elections.
Associated Press writers Bill Barrow in Marietta, Ga., Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio, Catherine Lucey in Columbia, Missouri, and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics
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