Trump, Oprah lead surrogate campaigners in 2018 midterms



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WASHINGTON — From President Donald Trump to Oprah Winfrey, voters in key battleground states are being bombarded with an influx of top political surrogates during the final days of the 2018 midterm campaign.

Trump will rally his most loyal supporters in Columbia, Missouri, on Thursday night to boost the fortunes of Republican Senate challenger Josh Hawley in his razor-thin contest against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Vice President Mike Pence was barnstorming Georgia for Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, while Ivanka Trump jetted to Nevada for Republican Sen. Dean Heller.

Democrats, meanwhile, enlisted the help of Winfrey in an attempt to motivate Democrats and crossover voters in Georgia’s titanic race for governor. Democrat Stacey Abrams is vying to become the nation’s first black woman governor in her race against Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state.

Former Vice President Joe Biden was headed to North Dakota to help Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who is among the most vulnerable Senate Democrats and has trailed Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer in public polling.

A look at campaign activities on Thursday:

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OPRAH VS. PENCE

Oprah Winfrey delivered a rousing speech in the Republican-leaning suburbs of Atlanta, urging voters to make history by backing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in next week’s election.

Winfrey promoted Abrams as Vice President Mike Pence campaigned for Republican Brian Kemp in one of the nation’s high-profile races for governor.

Winfrey praised Abrams as a “change-maker” and drew cheers when she said she’s a registered independent who was not in Georgia at anyone’s request. “I paid to come here myself, and I approved this message,” Winfrey said.

Pence was making three campaign stops for Kemp across Georgia. He told GOP supporters, “I’d like to remind Stacey and Oprah and Will Ferrell, I’m kind of a big deal, too,” Pence said, referencing a Ferrell line from the film, “Anchorman.” Ferrell campaigned in the state earlier this week.

“I’ve got a message for all of Stacey Abrams’ liberal Hollywood friends. This ain’t Hollywood. This is Georgia,” Pence said.

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IVANKA TRUMP

Ivanka Trump was hitting the campaign trail for two Republican candidates in the closing days of the midterms.

The first daughter was appearing with Heller during an event with volunteers at a Republican field office in Reno, Nevada. On Friday, she is set to appear with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in West Des Moines.

Ivanka Trump has not been heavily involved in midterm campaigning. But she built a relationship with Heller during the passage of the tax overhaul and connected with Reynolds on workforce and education issues on previous visits to Iowa.

Trump is a senior White House adviser to her father, but both stops will be made in her personal capacity.

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MELANIA TRUMP

One surrogate who is unlikely to join the president for his final blitz of campaign rallies is his wife, Melania Trump.

The president often talks at his rallies about how popular she is and what a great job he thinks she’s doing as first lady. Trump opened a six-day, 11-rally blitz on Wednesday night in Florida that will largely keep him on the road through Election Day. But Mrs. Trump is also not expected to do any campaigning on her own.

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman, says Mrs. Trump’s schedule, including holiday preparations at the White House and upcoming international travel with the president, preclude her joining him as he urges supporters to vote Republican in Tuesday’s elections.


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