- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2019

After a week of drama, President Trump will be on friendly, enthusiastic turf when he appears at a Make America Great Again rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Thursday — his 18th rally in the state and an ideal event for the president and a huge audience. Some 12,000 people are expected, according to local officials.

Mr. Trump can spend time revisiting the Mueller investigations — understandable since much of the hostile media refuses to abandon its Russia “collusion” narrative, though it grows more stale and tiresome by the minute. Then again, this MAGA rally could be a great catharsis for one and all — with a strong focus on the future and a vigorous campaign season.

“This visit is proof that the president is making Michigan a priority in 2020 and the Michigan Republican Party will do everything in our power to deliver our state’s 16 electoral votes to his re-election,” says Michigan GOP chairwoman Laura Cox, who notes that Michigan’s unemployment rate is at a 49-year low and that the state’s auto industry has added over 7,000 jobs.

There are historical moments which ramp up the appeal as well. Mr. Trump won 75 out of 83 Michigan counties in the 2016 election, besting Hillary Clinton by 10,704 votes — this in a state which had been dominated by Democrats since 1988. The locals are fierce in their support for Mr. Trump.

“He’s speaking directly to us and he doesn’t hold back. I love the fact that he’s brave enough to say what’s on his mind, and he doesn’t depend on anyone to deliver his message,” West Michigan Republicans founder Diane Schindlbeck told the Grand Haven Tribune, a local newspaper.

“The next election is going to break down between capitalism and socialism,” she predicted.

Mr. Trump’s rivals are ready to rumble, meanwhile.

“We’ve got to take down Donald Trump. What happened to us in 2016 is never going to happen again,” Michigan Democratic Party chairwoman Lavora Barnes told the Detroit Free Press, which itself referred to Mr. Trump’s Michigan victory in 2016 as “a heartbreaking lesson for Democrats.”

Protestors and spectacle will be on hand to greet Mr. Trump in Grand Rapids of course, including a group toting a giant, airborne “Trump Baby” balloon and representatives from the Socialist Alternative, a national political organization with succinct directions.

“Join us in saying Trump is not welcome here! We will begin at 4 p.m. in front of Van Andel Arena. This is when the doors open for the event, so Trump’s supporters will already be lining up,” the group advises participants.

THE TRUMP ‘ARMY’

President Trump’s re-election effort has evolved into a finely tuned force.

He’s built an “army of operatives,” says Associated Press correspondent Zeke Miller, citing helpful harmony in Mr. Trump’s campaign ground game.

“Heading into 2020, Trump and the Republican Party are increasingly indistinguishable. In the main hallway of the party’s Capitol Hill headquarters, glossy photos of Trump have replaced photos of other GOP presidents. The Republican National Committee’s existing data operation, which Democrats are frantically trying to replicate, has been steadily honed over the last six years, soaking up consumer data and years of political outreach to produce ‘voter scores’ on every voting-age American,” writes Mr. Miller.

Trump’s campaign is aiming even higher going forward, planning to build a team of more than one million volunteers to reach out to swing voters,” aides told him — which works out to one volunteer for every 13 swing voters.

The campaign is also running an unprecedented and enviable data operation “that cannot be replicated,” according to Brad Parscale, campaign director.

A SECRETARY’S WARNING

“Make no mistake — our border crisis has gone from a national emergency to a near system-wide meltdown. We must be able to secure our borders and protect vulnerable populations fleeing persecution. But we can’t do this effectively without action to fix our laws.”

So said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in a tweet Wednesday.

She is currently in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, at a multilateral meeting at the Ministry of Security with Northern Triangle officials representing the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

A MEETING OF THE MINDS

The National Review Institute’s two-day “Ideas Summit” begins Thursday, staged at a swell hotel in the nation’s capital. Among those on hand to have their say:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, and a wide ranging cast of smart folks who include Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and such columnists as Tammy Bruce, Matthew Continetti, Jim Geraghty, Jonah Goldberg, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Rich Lowry, Andrew C. McCarthy, Jay Nordlinger and John O’Sullivan.

The topic at hand is “The Case for the American Experiment,” and the big doings include a sunrise jog to the Jefferson Memorial and the Whittaker Chambers Awards Dinner.

A MESSY DESK ALERT

Thursday marks the launch of the inaugural “Messiest Desk in Congress ” — appropriately organized by the Household and Commercial Products Association.

“Some say that a messy desk is the sign of a creative mind. There must be a lot of creativity on Capitol Hill given the state of some of the desks up there,” says Steve Caldeira, president and CEO of the trade group.

Staffers and lawmakers themselves can nominate the best of the worst desks via the organization’s Twitter account @theHCPA, using the hashtag #MessiestDeskinCongress. Illustrative photos are recommended. Nominations also welcome on the group’s Facebook site, found at @TheHCPA1667.

Public voting to decide the winner follows in two weeks.

POLL DU JOUR

37 percent of U.S. voters say Robert Mueller’s investigation “did not make a determination” on whether President Trump obstructed the Russia probe; 32 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 38 percent of Democrats agree.

27 percent of voters overall agree that “Mueller found that President Trump did not obstruct” justice; 48 percent of Republicans, 17 percent of independents and 16 percent of Democrats agree.

22 percent overall don’t know or have no opinion; 14 percent of Republicans, 29 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats agree.

15 percent overall agree “Mueller found Trump obstructed the investigation,” 6 percent of Republicans, 13 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Morning Consult/Politico survey of 1,978 registered U.S. voters conducted March 25-26.

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