President Trump decried Democrats as members of the “party of crime” at a rally in support of Republican House and Senate candidates in Minnesota Thursday night, as the Senate moved toward a crucial test vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The president warned that if Democrats take control of Congress in November’s midterm elections, they would “plunge our country into a nightmare of gridlock, poverty, chaos and frankly, crime because that’s what comes with it.”
“On November 6, I need your vote,” Trump said. “I need your support to stop radical Democrats and elect proud Minnesota Republicans.”
Trump largely stuck to economic and social policy issues at the rally in Rochester, a Trump-friendly area of traditionally Democratic Minnesota. However, he briefly referenced the controversy over Kavanaugh, who is fighting allegations of sexual misconduct that date from his time in high school and college in the 1980s.
“What they’re putting him through and his family … it’s incredible what they’re putting him through,” Trump told the crowd, who chanted “We want Kavanaugh!”
“The Dems are willing to do anything, to hurt anyone, to get the power they so desperately crave,” Trump said. “They want to resist, they want to obstruct, they want to delay, demolish, they want to destroy. That’s what happens. And just take a look at what’s going on. Democrats have been trying to destroy Judge Brett Kavanaugh since the very first second he was announced.”
The president was criticized earlier this week after he questioned sexual assault allegations made against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford at a rally in Mississippi. However, he steered clear of mentioning the claims on Thursday.
Instead, he praised Kavanaugh as “an incredible intellect, an incredible person, an incredible talent. He’s been an incredible judge.” He also predicted that anger over Kavanaugh’s treatment would motivate Republican voters to turn out for the midterms in 34 days.
“All you have to do is look at the polls over the last three or four days,” Trump said, “and it shows that their rage-fueled resistance is starting to backfire at a level that nobody has ever seen before … People see what’s happening and they don’t like it. The people of Minnesota and the people of America are going to reject the Democrat politics of anger and destruction.”
Earlier Thursday, Trump told reporters that he thought Kavanaugh “was doing very well” as the president greeted supporters after landing in Minneapolis. Senators will vote on ending debate on the federal judge’s nomination to the high court Friday morning, with a final confirmation vote expected on Saturday. Lawmakers have spent the day weighing a confidential FBI report over allegations brought by two women.
Earlier Thursday, Trump tweeted support for Kavanaugh, saying the nominee had received “harsh” and “unfair” treatment and claiming that “Due Process, Fairness and Common Sense are now on trial!”
Thursday’s rally was a bid to boost Republican Jim Hagedorn, who is seeking an open congressional seat in the 1st Congressional District, a Republican-leaning area Democrats have controlled for 12 years. Hagedorn, who came close to unseating outgoing Rep. Tim Walz in 2016, has been an unabashed supporter of Trump and has said he hopes the publicity from the rally will help put him over the top.
Trump also appeared with Rep. Jason Lewis, who is facing a close re-election race in the Minneapolis suburbs. However, Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen, who is also fighting to hold a suburban seat, did not plan to attend, underscoring the president’s mixed popularity in the state.
Another GOP candidate who did appear was Karin Housley, who is running against Democratic incumbent Tina Smith in a U.S. Senate special election to complete the term begun by Al Franken, who resigned over sexual misconduct allegations late last year.
“You really do go off-script, don’t you?” joked Housley after Trump unexpectedly called her up on stage. Then, addressing the crowd, she said that Trump had mentioned Smith’s name “way too many times. We need to say Karin Housley a lot more.”
“Vote for her,” Trump said as she left the stage. “Vote for Karin.”
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that people had started showing up at the venue for the evening rally at 5 a.m. City officials estimated that approximately 4,000 Trump supporters had gathered outside the 10,000-seat venue before the doors opened. Nearby, a march protesting the president’s policies drew an estimated 500 people while the Trump supporters occasionally chanted Kavanaugh’s name.