President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Southern Illinois Airport in Murphysboro, Ill. Eager to focus voters on immigration in the lead-up to the midterm elections. (AP)
President Donald Trump on Monday closed out an us-against-them midterm election campaign that was built on dark themes of fear, nationalism and racial animosity in an effort to salvage Republican control of Congress for the remaining two years of his term.
Trump’s fiery, invective-filled campaigning produced what may be the most polarized midterm contest in modern times as he played to tribal rifts in American society in a way that no president has done since the civil rights era.
On Tuesday, voters will choose a new House, decide one-third of the seats in the Senate and select new governors for battleground states that will be critical to the 2020 presidential campaign. On the line for the president will be his ability to legislate, appoint new judges and ultimately set the stage to run for a second term.
More than most midterms, this election became a referendum on Trump. The president’s energetic rallies appear to have bolstered Republicans who were trying to match Democratic fervor, and 36 million ballots were cast even before Election Day, with early voting higher than four years ago in 25 states and the District of Columbia.
Fueled by anti-Trump zeal, Democrats appeared poised to recapture control of the House and governors’ mansions in key Midwestern states, but Republicans were confident they would hold onto their razor-thin majority in the Senate and possibly even build on it. A split decision could set the stage for two years of partisan warfare led by subpoena-powered Democratic committee leaders intent on investigating everything from his taxes to Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.
The president spent Monday barnstorming the Midwest on behalf of allies in close races, drawing loud and enthusiastic crowds of thousands. At rallies in Cleveland; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and finally here in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, his remarks were laced with his usual, acerbic attacks on his adversaries.
But he again reserved his most vitriolic language for immigration, repeatedly prompting loud boos as he warned that if Democrats win, they would invite murderers to come into the United States to kill men, women and children.