President Donald Trump slammed Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, at his campaign rally in Minnesota. USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Reeling from the growing threat of impeachment, President Donald Trump took to the campaign trail for the second day in a row on Friday, stumping for not one but two GOP candidates for governor in Louisiana.
Appearing at a GOP rally in Lake Charles, La., on the eve of the state’s gubernatorial election, Trump urged Louisiana residents to “fire” Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and replace him with one of the GOP’s two candidates, Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone.
But Trump also used his appearance before a friendly crowd in a state that he won by 20 percentage points in 2016 to rail against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats for opening an impeachment inquiry against him.
“Nancy Pelosi hates the United States of America,” Trump said to cheers, calling the impeachment investigation “one of the great con jobs ever” and claiming it is “illegal, invalid and unconstitutional.”
“It’s a disgrace what’s going on,” Trump said. “It’s a whole big fat disgrace, and it’s very unfair to Republicans … But you know what? We’re here and they’re not!”
The White House has refused to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, even though Article 1 of the Constitution grants the House “the sole power of impeachment.” Democrats have accused Trump of stonewalling.
Trump’s remarks at Friday’s event echoed his comments during an appearance at a campaign rally Thursday in Minneapolis. At Thursday’s event, he stepped up his attacks on Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner, and his son Hunter.
“He was never considered a good senator,” Trump said of Biden in Minneapolis. “He was only a good vice president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”
Biden, who participated in a forum on LGBTQ rights on Thursday, wrote on Twitter that he had spent the evening talking about “the fundamental respect every human being deserves” while Trump spent his “how little respect for anyone else you have.”
“America is so much stronger than your weakness,” Biden tweeted.
On Friday, the line to get inside the GOP rally in Lake Charles formed quickly, with hundreds wrapped around the James E. Sudduth Coliseum by mid-afternoon.
As spectators lined up, a recording advised Trump supporters not to touch protesters. Instead, it encouraged them to shout “Trump! Trump! Trump!”
Inside the coliseum, Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., warmed up the crowd by saying that Trump likes Louisiana “like the devil loves sin.”
Minneapolis rally: Trump steps up attacks on Joe Biden and his son
Impeachment was a key theme of Trump’s nearly 90-minute speech in which he also tried to fire up GOP voters ahead of the state’s gubernatorial election on Saturday.
Republicans Abraham and Rispone are challenging Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South. Edwards is leading in the polls, but the GOP is trying to drum up support for both of its candidates and prevent Edwards from getting at least 50 percent of the vote on Saturday.
If that happens, the top two vote-getters would be forced into a runoff, which Republicans believe would boost their chances of taking back the governorship.
Trump, who did not endorse either of the GOP candidates, predicted earlier this week the race would “most likely” be forced into a runoff.
If so, Edwards would be only the second Louisiana governor in modern history to face a runoff. Democrat Edwin Edwards was pushed into a runoff in 1987 but conceded the race to fellow Democrat Buddy Roemer before voters went back to the polls.
Protesters clashed with supporters outside a rally in Minneapolis. Some burned MAGA hats and threw urine in the streets. USA TODAY
Trump’s appearance at Friday’s rally is the third in a week by a high-profile Republican on behalf of the two GOP candidates.
At a rally last Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence tied the gubernatorial race to the 2020 presidential election, telling supporters that “we need Louisiana to send a Republican to the governor’s office and for Louisiana to vote for four more years of President Donald Trump.”
“It all starts here,” he said. “It all starts now.”
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., campaigned on behalf of Abraham and Rispone at a rally in Lafayette on Monday.
Contributing: Courtney Subramanian of USA Today, Greg Hilburn of the Monroe Star News and Andrew Capps and Ashley White of the Daily Advertiser
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