WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — President Donald Trump, who ditched the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner for a campaign-style rally in Michigan, urged voters to support Republicans for Congress and repeatedly cited Sen. Debbie Stabenow as one of the Democrats who needed to be voted out of office.
Trump took aim at familiar political targets and added a few fresh ones Saturday night at the rally in Washington Township.
“Debbie Stabenow is one of the leaders for weak borders and letting people in. I don’t know how she gets away with it,” Trump said. “A vote for a Democrat in November is a vote for open borders and crime. It’s very simple. It’s also a vote for much higher taxes.”
Stabenow, who is running for re-election to her fourth term, fired back Sunday that voters are sick of the partisanship.
“Michigan families are tired of political attacks,” said her spokeswoman, Miranda Margowsky. “Instead they want results, and that’s exactly what Senator Stabenow has done.”
In Michigan, Trump also directed his ire at another Democratic senator, Jon Tester of Montana, over his role in the failed nomination of White House doctor Ronny Jackson to run the Department of Veterans Affairs. Tester, too, faces a competitive re-election race this year.
“I know things about Tester that I could say, too. And if I said ’em, he’d never be elected again,” Trump said without elaborating.
Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, had his staff compile a list of allegations against Jackson based on interviews with more than 20 military personnel, and they released it with the support of the Republican committee chairman.
Jackson was a surprise pick by Trump for VA secretary. The White House was criticized for skipping crucial vetting of nominees and letting lawmakers to clean up the mess.
As he has at similar events, Trump promoted top agenda items that energize conservatives: appointing conservative judges, building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, ending sanctuary cities and protecting tax cuts approved by the Republican-led Congress. He also took credit for the warming relations between North and South Korea, telling his audience, “We’ll see how it goes.”
“Great evening last night,” the president tweeted early Sunday. “The enthusiasm, knowledge and love in that room was unreal. To the many thousands of people who couldn’t get in, I cherish you … and will be back!”
Trump chose a friendly venue for his rally, which not coincidentally came the same night as the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He skipped the dinner last year.
“While Washington, Michigan, was a big success, Washington, D.C., just didn’t work. Everyone is talking about the fact that the White House Correspondents Dinner was a very big, boring bust…the so-called comedian really ‘bombed,'” Trump tweeted.
That barb was directed at Michelle Wolf, who provided the after-dinner entertainment for the White House press corps and their guests, and whose performance was surprisingly racy. After one crass joke drew groans from the audience, Wolf laughed and said, “Yeah, shoulda done more research before you got me to do this.”
Before the Michigan rally, Trump had said in a fundraising pitch that he had come up with something better than being stuck in a room “with a bunch of fake news liberals who hate me.” He said he would rather spend the evening “with my favorite deplorables.”