Senate Democrats: Be Afraid When Trump Comes to Town
February 1, 2017
Among the 23 Democratic senators up for re-election in 2018, there are 10 from states that President Trump won in 2016. Now that Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer and the Democratic Party have decided to resist every plan, policy, proposal and nomination by the fledgling Trump administration, these senators should beware the power that Trump ultimately has to respond.
You may recall that it was the start of something remarkable on a hot summer night on Aug. 21, 2015 in a football stadium in Mobile, Ala., that first revealed Trump's true potential and his bully-pulpit influence.
Trump's campaign team had to relocate the planned event to a larger space twice to meet the overwhelming response. They settled on Ladd Peebles Stadium, which hosted 30,000 patriots and hometown of now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose appearance lent important street credibility to the outsider candidate.
The event sent shockwaves through the Republican establishment. Trump proved he was for real, and his phenomenon continued to grow at rallies across the country. Millions of Americans, who waited in long lines for hours at each rally, demonstrated their contempt for the political establishment from both parties. They responded resoundingly to the appeal of the blue-collar billionaire who used the rallies for his off-the-cuff commentary about the failures of today's politicians.
Trump couldn't get enough of these rallies. Even after the election, he got back on the road for a thank-you tour through several states, culminating with a return to Mobile for a victorious reunion on Dec. 17 at Ladd Peebles Stadium.
It has been eight weeks since that last rally, and Trump has more reason than ever to get the band back together again and go back on the road.
Since his inauguration on Jan. 20, the Democrats have deployed a political strategy to oppose all things Trump. Even more troubling, they have closely aligned themselves with the alt-left of their party that will use violent demonstrations to oppose the president.
This strategy has a very short-term focus. While Democrats can delay the Trump agenda, they have little more than procedural tactics to thwart his progress, and will by no means expand their appeal to a more diverse constituency of Americans.
Trump's approach, on the other hand, has an eye toward the long game for economic prosperity and national security. If he targets vulnerable Democratic senators in states he won in 2016 now, he can get policies passed sooner and build a broader national coalition in the process.
First, he can pressure these senators to split from the alt-left wing of their party and support parts of his agenda so he can deliver results to the pocketbooks of everyday Americans across the political spectrum.
Second, he can work now towards expanding the GOP majority closer to 60 votes in the Senate, a potential outcome of the 2018 midterm elections.
That's why we should expect to see the new president hit the road again soon.
Expect him to visit states where Democratic incumbents won their seats in 2012 with 55 percent or less of the popular vote. This would include Florida (Sen. Bill Nelson), Indiana (Sen. Joe Donnelly), Missouri (Sen. Claire McCaskill), Montana (Sen. Jon Tester), North Dakota (Sen. Heidi Heitkamp), Ohio (Sen. Sherrod Brown), Pennsylvania (Sen. Bob Casey), Virginia (Sen. Tim Kaine) and Wisconsin (Sen. Tammy Baldwin).
Critics will point to the supposed cancellation of a visit to a Harley Davidson plant this week as proof that Trump won't face violent demonstrators who will turn out in droves to oppose him. Yet, new rallies featuring Trump will be sponsored by the Republican National Committee or his own re-election committee (yes, it's already open for business) so the events are privately sponsored and not open to the general public. His team will ensure the president can connect with his supporters at Trump rallies.
As opponents learned in the GOP primary and the general election campaign, Trump rallies were a phenomenon that captured the essence of a political rebellion unlike anything else in the 2016 race (no offense, Sen. Bernie Sanders).
It's a tool that will come in handy again for the 45th president.
Mark Serrano (@MarkVSerrano) is a political strategist and the president and founder of ProActive Communications. He has worked for numerous Republican presidential campaigns since 1988.