MANCHESTER, N.H. — Donald Trump campaigned at a packed and raucous arena here Monday night, rallying the same supporters who gave him his first political victory in the primary nine months ago, setting him on the path that ends Tuesday night with either a come-from-behind victory, or a third consecutive Republican presidential defeat that would leave the party’s future in question.
Senate Republicans are bullish about the 2018 midterms as they target Democrats running for re-election in states carried by President Trump. But facing a turbulent political environment and seasoned Democrats who have won tough races before, some Republicans are growing concerned about their recruitment progress, anxious that potential GOP challengers aren’t stepping up to run in top-tier races.
Most Republicans caution patience, arguing it’s still early in the cycle and pointing out they have potential candidates in most of the races expected to be focal points next year. But others say that unless those potential candidates make their bids official soon, their prospects might not be as rosy as most believe.
Democrats are poised to gain seats in the House of Representatives this year, but with well over a dozen competitive races still viewed as tossups just one week before Election Day, the extent of that gain — and whether Republicans can stem the bleeding and keep a strong grip on their majority — remains uncertain.
Democrats for months have hoped to nationalize races, tying Republicans down the ballot to Donald Trump and hoping a big loss by Trump could flip a significant number of seats. They saw gains early in October when Republican polling in swing districts fell after the release of the “Access Hollywood” recording in which Trump boasted about making unwanted sexual advances on women — something that prompted more than a dozen Republicans to withdraw their support for the party’s nominee.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Sen. Marco Rubio stood behind Donald Trump this week, but he didn’t stand up with him.
The junior senator didn’t appear at any of the four rallies the GOP nominee held across the state. Dozens of other Republicans have withdrawn their support from Trump’s flagging campaign in the wake of a published video of him uttering lewd comments about women and saying he made unwanted sexual advances.
Rubio did not join those who fled the campaign, but in a tweet Friday, he did condemn Trump’s comments. In a statement Tuesday, Rubio said that while he had rejected Trump’s “offensive rhetoric and behavior” and wished there were “better choices for President,” he viewed Trump as the lesser of two evils.
PHILADELPHIA – Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two progressive senators who are among the most popular and well-regarded figures in the Democratic Party, are making their much-anticipated debuts on the campaign trail for Senate candidates by stumping for Katie McGinty, who is challenging incumbent Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania.
The appearance of the two most popular Democratic figures outside of President Obama and Vice President Biden is a sign of how critical Pennsylvania will be in determining which party controls the Senate in 2017. But it’s also a sign that of all the Democrats challenging incumbent GOP senators this year, McGinty might need the most help.
Meanwhile, Portman has opened up a sizable lead in the Senate race over the last month and is outpacing Trump by double digits in the state.
Republicans point to Portman’s campaign as an exemplar of how to run a down-ballot race in 2016 and think he’s positioned himself to win whether or not Clinton carries the state.
Democrats counter that Portman’s numbers are inflated and the race will tighten in the coming weeks. With Republicans holding a slim four-seat majority in the Senate and defending a number of toss-up races, Ohio could prove critical in deciding which party has the majority in the upper chamber next year.