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Monday, October 1, 2018

Republicans Counting On Trump In Tennessee

Donald Trump lands in East Tennessee tonight to headline a rally and fundraise for Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, but the mission is actually broader than that: how to prevent the massive upset brewing in the state’s open Senate race.

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Just two years ago, Trump trounced Hillary Clinton in Tennessee, winning by 26 points. Today, Republicans are working to stave off what would be a disastrous defeat in the battle for the Senate seat left vacant by GOP Sen. Bob Corker’s retirement — a loss that could threaten the GOP’s razor thin majority.

They’re counting on the president to help drag Blackburn over the finish line. Yet Blackburn and state Republicans are leaning so hard on Trump that the pivotal Senate race might come down to a single question: how much is too much Trump?

“I think it’s a vulnerable race in a very Republican state,” said longtime Tennessee Republican strategist Tom Ingram. “I think Trump is still popular here. But this is a statewide race, not a district race. The dynamics change a lot between a polarized district and a broader-based state.”

Monday’s events mark the president’s second visit to the state since the spring. That’s on top of the images from a Trump rally that appear in her TV ads, her repeatedly touting the president’s endorsement and, in a recent 30-second spot, using Trump’s own words to blast Democratic opponent Phil Bredesen.
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