COLUMBUS — President Donald Trump won Ohio by 8 points in 2016, but his re-election campaign so far has put a red circle around the Buckeye State.
Trump is scheduled to visit Toledo for his first campaign rally of 2020 on Thursday alongside Vice President Mike Pence, and his daughter-in-law and campaign adviser Lara Trump was a warm-up act in Columbus on Wednesday.
“All roads to the White House run through Ohio,” Lara Trump said during a speech to more than 300 of the president’s supporters at the Hilton Columbus at Easton. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump is going to be re-elected for four more years.”
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Speaking hours after Trump’s nationally televised address about the conflict with Iran, Lara Trump praised the administration’s killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani while criticizing those who say Trump struggles to be “presidential.”
In an interview before the rally, Lara Trump, who is married to Trump’s son Eric, ripped past administrations’ handling of Iran, saying they have dealt with problems in the Middle East “by appeasing them.”
“We have a very different strategy with this president. It’s peace through strength,” she told The Dispatch, noting that Trump has made it clear that there would be “hell to pay” if Iran took further action.
Between a smattering of chants of “U.S.A.” and “four more years” at the rally, Lara Trump alternated between praise for the president and rebukes of his potential opponents in the Democratic primary field. She accused Democrats of promoting socialism.
“Every time I see some of these candidates, I say, ’this is who they’re running for president really?’ It’s really scary to think that one of these individuals could end up in the White House.”
Only Democratic candidate former Vice President Joe Biden was mentioned by name, though.
“Can you imagine if Donald Trump got to debate against Joe Biden? I sort of feel sorry for him, guys. That’s how you know it’s not going well. I’m supposed to be on the opposite team and every time he’s on stage I say, ’oof, I hope he doesn’t mess something up here.’”
The Democratic challengers would have to overcome what Lara Trump said is the president’s booming economy, with more jobs, to win the election. Ohio had its biggest job growth of 2019 in November, the most recent data available, but it still was on pace to finish the year with fewer jobs.
Job growth in Ohio ranks 39th out of 50 states, according to the Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University.
Trump’s campaign is visiting Ohio against the backdrop of impeachment, which has stalled in Congress after the historic vote in the House last month. Speaker Nancy Pelosi hasn’t sent articles of impeachment to the Senate, and the Senate hasn’t set rules for a trial.
“This impeachment was nonsense from the beginning,” Lara Trump said before the rally. In fact, she said it helped the campaign raise more money, raking in $46 million in the fourth quarter of 2019.
“They are desperate because they know what we know in this room – that this country is working for people again,” she said.