President Donald Trump continued his closing midterm campaign tour in Indiana where he tried to counter campaigning by former President Barack Obama who will visit the state during the weekend (Nov. 2)
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump hammered his closing message on immigration during a pair of campaign rallies Saturday, repeatedly evoking an image of barbed wire being pulled along the border as he urged voters to consider “security” when they turn out for next week’s pivotal midterm elections.
Making what is expected to be his final visit to Florida before voters decide control of Congress on Tuesday, Trump blasted Democratic opposition to his proposed border wall and criticized an idea raised by some liberal Democrats – and opposed by the party’s leaders – to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In doubling down on his immigration stance and describing the caravan of Central Americans still more than 700 miles from the border as an imminent threat, Trump has revived a theme that worked well for him in the 2016 election and tapped into a frustration felt by millions of Americans over illegal immigration.
But it remains unclear whether the success Trump had in using immigration in 2016 will transfer to the midterm elections. Polls in key states indicate immigration remains a salient issue for many voters, especially Republicans, along with the economy and healthcare.
“If Democrats get elected they will do everything in their power to dismantle ICE; they want to turn America into a giant sanctuary city for violent predators and ruthless gang members,” Trump told the audience in Pensacola, Florida on Saturday. “We will keep the criminals, drug dealers, terrorists the hell out of our country.”
During both the Florida rally and an event earlier in Montana, Trump noted he had ordered more troops to the border in response to the caravan and pointed to images of U.S. soldiers running what he called “beautiful” barbed wire along the Texas side of the Rio Grande
He also has been increasingly tailoring his immigration message to women voters who are expected to play an important role in turnout.
The president has been notably silent about another element of his immigration plan: An effort he announced at the White House on Thursday to curb asylum. Arguing that the asylum system is being abused, Trump threatened to erect “tent cities” to hold migrants at the border until their asylum application could be fully reviewed by a court.
On Saturday, Trump mentioned neither the tents nor an executive order he said he would sign next week to limit asylum. He also has only barely returned to the issue of birthright citizenship, which he suggested earlier this week he could roll back by executive order.
Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, have been pushing back on Trump’s position as they make their own closing case to voters.
“A president doesn’t get to decide on his own who’s an American citizen and who’s not,” Obama said in Florida on Friday. “That’s not how the Constitution of the United States works. That’s not how the Bill of Rights works.”
Trump threatened earlier this month to close the border with Mexico, a major trading partner, and also claimed on Twitter that the caravan included unknown “Middle Easterners.” Neither Trump nor the White House have provided evidence to back up the latter claim.
The president is almost certain to continue to press immigration as he campaigns on Sunday and Monday. His schedule includes with stops in Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri. The president’s campaign also announced that it would hold a telephone town hall with supporters on the eve of the election.
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