Trump looks to energize White House with Florida rally

Trump looks to energize White House with Florida rally
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President Trump will hold a campaign-style rally in Florida on Saturday in an attempt to stay on offense after a wild week that culminated in a new war with the press.

The rally will return Trump to his element: The president loves to appear before large, supportive crowds— it was his favorite thing to do as a presidential candidate.

A crowd of 30,000 is expected to attend the 5 p.m. event in Melbourne, Fla.

“He feeds off the crowd’s energy,” said one Trump associate who is familiar with the president’s thinking.

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“For him, it’s a demonstrative visual,” the associate said. “It proves to the country — and the press corps — what people are really thinking and it gets him out of Washington, which is always a good idea.”

It’s typical for a president to hit the road and get some face time with Americans across the country.

The difference with Trump and Saturday’s event, is that he doesn’t appear to have a specific policy issue to push. 

Former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPompeo’s retreat into chaos Barack Obama wishes Michelle a happy birthday: 'You’re one of a kind' NY Times prints special section featuring women of the 116th Congress MORE, who like Trump fed off appearing before supportive, arena-sized crowds of adoring fans, aimed to sell his stimulus plan and his healthcare proposal on the road. Obama even set out on a string of bus tours— targeting issues like the congressional deadlock on the debt-ceiling. 

After his State of the Union address in 2005, former President George W. Bush hit the road to sell his Social Security plan. He did the same in selling his tax-cut proposal in 2001.

Those familiar with Trump’s plans say the president will speak about immigration and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in broad brush strokes.

But the lack of detail on policy could be problematic for Trump, who needs to do more than appear before a supportive crowd to push his legislative agenda moving forward in Congress.

Trump supporters say what worked for past presidents doesn’t necessarily work  for Trump.

Asked in an interview if Trump should have a specific policy issue, Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord, said, “Ordinarily, I’d say yes.”

“But it’s a little different with him. His supporters are people who are on a mission. It’s a movement. It’s a cause. They want to change Washington, “ Lord said. “People loves these [rallies]. It’s smart for him to do it.” 

At the same time, some Republican strategists don’t think that’s the best approach. 

“My instinct is that he needs to start behaving in a much more conventional way…until the team is cohesive,” said Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak. “I’m not sure what it gets him unless he has a focused, salient message. 

“I’m not interested in his voters supporting him,” Mackowiak said. “What matters now is, bipartisan accomplishments and can he be disciplined and focused enough to be persuasive? I don’t know that we know that yet.”

Trump associates say they see Saturday as a chance to drive the narrative after weeks of negative headlines, which included a rash of leaks from within the White House, the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and new questions that have arisen about contacts between Trump’s team and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. 

The rally, coupled with the news conference earlier in the week, will help Trump go on offense. 

“He’s very media savvy and I think he did say to himself, ‘I need to get out there and change the narrative,’ Lord said, adding that the combination of press conferences and rallies “are the way he’s going to communicate with the American people over the next four years.”

Lord quipped that Trump has in a way created a new reality show called ‘Beat the Press.”

Trump seemed to employ those tactics when he used his press conference on Thursday at the White House to plug his rally a couple of times during his opening remarks. 

“I'll be in Melbourne, Florida five o'clock on Saturday and I heard, just heard, that the crowds are massive that want to be there,” he slipped in between comments on the media narrative being driven about his White House. 

And before ending his remarks minutes later, before taking questions he reminded his audience of the place and time yet again and then added, “I hope to see you there.”