Trump seeks to boost vulnerable GOP senator with Colorado rally

Trump seeks to boost vulnerable GOP senator with Colorado rally
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE on Thursday rallied with supporters in Colorado, seeking to boost vulnerable GOP Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs major conservation bill into law | Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official | Trump Jr. expresses opposition to Pebble Mine project Trump signs major conservation bill into law 300 green groups say Senate has 'moral duty' to reject Trump's public lands nominee MORE (Colo.) as the state's Senate election this coming November could help determine which party will control the upper chamber.

Trump exuded confidence in his remarks to thousands of supporters in Colorado Springs, predicting a strong showing for his campaign in November.

"We are going to win Colorado in a landslide," Trump declared to the thousands of supporters. "And you’re going to help us get Cory Gardner across that line because he’s been with us 100 percent. There was no waver."

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The president lost Colorado and its nine electoral votes in 2016 by about 5 percentage points, or roughly 136,000 votes. Democrats retained control of the governor's mansion in the 2018 election and flipped one House seat as the state becomes more solidly blue.

But the president's presence in the state may be as much about the general presidential election as it is about trying to shore up the Republican majority in the Senate. 

After introducing a host of special guests — the state's Republican congressmen, Donald Trump Jr. and Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White among them — Trump welcomed Gardner onto the stage. The two men shook hands and exchanged compliments.

Trump expressed appreciation for Gardner sticking by him through the impeachment trial, saying the senator viewed the allegations that he withheld security aid for Ukraine in exchange for investigations into his political rivals as "a lot of bull."

"He's got my complete and total support endorsement. He will never let you down," Trump said, though his verbal embrace of Gardner coincided with a cascade of boos directed at a protester in the crowd.

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Gardner is among the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in the Senate in November. He narrowly won his seat in 2014 and will likely square off with former Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperObama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements Gardner says GOP committee should stop airing attack ad on opponent Hickenlooper Democrats' lurch toward the radical left — and other useful myths MORE (D), a centrist who ran a brief and unsuccessful presidential campaign. The Cook Political Report rates the race a "toss-up," while Sabato's Crystal Ball on Thursday shifted it to "leans Democratic."

The Colorado senator has attempted to tie himself closely to Trump, hoping that strong turnout among the president's base will deliver him a victory. Gardner voted against hearing from witnesses in Trump's impeachment trial last month and voted to acquit the president on both articles.

While on stage Thursday night, Gardner asked the crowd to applaud Trump twice. He thanked the president for deliver funding for a state pipeline and echoed Trump in warning against the rise of socialism.

"There was a dangerous thing that happened in 2016. It was the normalization of socialism by Bernie SandersBernie SandersLongtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package MORE," Gardner said, depicting himself as a safeguard against Sanders' platform. 

Trump's speech hit on many of the same notes as most of his rally remarks. He boasted of increased military spending, economic prosperity for minority communities in particular and a boom in energy production . He also painted Democrats as "radical" and railed against investigations into his administration.

He devoted time to mocking Wednesday night's Democratic debate, chiding the performance of Michael BloombergMichael BloombergHillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom Meme group joins with Lincoln Project in new campaign against Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump pivots on convention; GOP punts on virus bill MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharLobbying world Biden should pick the best person for the job — not the best woman House committee requests hearing with postmaster general amid mail-in voting concerns MORE (D-Minn.) in particular.

Trump often veered off script, recalling how he spoke at the Air Force Academy commencement ceremony last year and complaining at length about Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto.

Thursday's rally was the second of three that Trump will hold on consecutive days during a rare trip out west. The president rallied supporters in Arizona on Wednesday where he was joined by Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona McSally defeats primary challenger for GOP Senate nod in Arizona Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions MORE (R-Ariz.) who is facing a difficult reelection fight.

Trump will hold a rally in Nevada on Friday a day before the state holds its Democratic caucuses before returning to Washington, D.C.