President Donald Trump will visit Grand Rapids today, his first trip to West Michigan since before he was sworn into office.
Trump’s campaign rally at Van Andel Arena downtown is expected to draw more than 10,000 people. The event starts at 7 p.m. ET. The president’s remarks will be streamed live on our website.
Like it did in 2016, Michigan is expected to play a key role in 2020. The president will try to secure the states he won last time to get re-elected. It’s far too early to say which way the state may go, but voters did elect Democrats to several important offices in the midterm.
The Democratic-leaning city of Grand Rapids and the historically Republican turf surrounding it in Kent County have seen a rise of Democratic activism and electoral success since Trump took office. Democrats also are benefiting from demographic changes, as the area has grown younger and more diverse, and there are signs the improving economy also could be helping them.
Last fall, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer won the governor’s race over a Trump-endorsed candidate with help from voters in Kent County. She was the first Democratic gubernatorial nominee to take the county since an incumbent won it in 1986. Democrats also picked up a longtime GOP-held state Senate seat and made gains on the county board.
Local Democratic leaders also point to a flurry of new organizations that popped up to oppose Trump and promote progressive causes, from women’s marches to environmental concerns.
But for all the enthusiasm on the left, Trump’s supporters could be newly energized by the Mueller investigation ending with no evidence of collusion with Russia.
“Democrats are in a pickle and they put themselves here” by trumpeting the investigation, said Brian “Boomer” Patrick, communications director for Republican U.S. Rep Bill Huizenga. “All the eggs were in one basket on the Mueller report.”
Trump campaign officials acknowledge that they face a battle holding the states Trump swung away from Democrats in 2016, including Michigan and Wisconsin, and that Trump’s likeliest path to victory in 2020 almost requires them to do it.
Still, they insist that the lesson of the 2018 midterms is that Trump’s core supporters are still enthusiastic about him — as evidenced by several victories in races in which the president invested his time. And in 2020, Trump himself will be atop the ballot and actively campaigning.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)