iStock/Oleksii Liskonih(RIO RANCHO, N.M.) — For the second time in nearly a month, President Donald Trump is planting his flag Monday night in a state he lost in 2016 with a massive campaign rally in New Mexico — a move that’s part of a wider strategy for the campaign which has its sights on flipping a number of blue states red in 2020.
Trump kicked off his rally in New Mexico on Monday bashing Democrats and promising to win the state in 2020.
“We have to win 2020. Every day you know as well as I do we are battling against the corrupt establishment of the past and achieving historic victories for the American people,” he said.
In his pitch, the president painted a dire picture of what Democrats’ policies would lead to, arguing that with the Green New Deal, “the Democrats want to completely annihilate New Mexico’s economy.”
“The Democrats want us to be subservient to foreign producers. They want us to be at the mercy of rogue regimes. That is not happening anymore,” Trump told the packed crowd at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
The president also defended Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh amid renewed allegations of sexual misconduct, slamming the media for its coverage and targeting Democrats for trying to “intimidate Americans into submission.”
“They will do whatever they can to demean you, to libel you. They try to blacklist, coerce, cancel or destroy anyone who gets in their way,” the president said. “Look at what they are doing today to Justice Kavanaugh. Look at what they are doing.”
Trump blasted The New York Times for its coverage of the story, reiterating his tweet from earlier in the day where he called for everyone involved in the paper’s Kavanaugh coverage to resign.
“I do not think they will do it, but they should, for the good of the nation,” Trump said. “Did you see what Democrats — they are calling for his resignation. They are calling for his impeachment.”
Trump also touted his record with Hispanic Americans, some waving signs reading “Latinos for Trump,” despite relentless calls to limit immigration at the southern border.
“We are working night and day to deliver a future of limitless opportunities for a nation and Hispanic American citizens, including millions and millions of extraordinary Mexican Americans, who enrich our society, strengthen our country, serve in our military and contribute immensely to our shared American family,” Trump said.
In an awkward moment, the president also shouted out CNN contributor Steve Cortes, saying: “He happens to be Hispanic, but I have never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP (white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant) than I do.”
Trump went on to ask Cortes if he loved “the country or the Hispanics” more. “He says, ‘the country,'” the president said.
The president reiterated his familiar attacks against Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, while repeatedly saying he doesn’t want to attack the 2020 Democrats too early.
“I don’t what to do this too early. I don’t wanna do it — you know, the Pocahontas thing, I did that and it was before its time. Right? It was before its time,” he said.
It may seem strange for the Trump campaign to travel out West and hold a rally in a state that, not only did the president lose by nearly double digits, but one that hasn’t gone Republican in well over a decade — but the move is actually backed by internal data the team is seeing on the ground.
Back in February, during the president’s trip to El Paso, Texas, for his first rally of the year, the campaign noticed something: a significant number of supporters from neighboring New Mexico had made the trip to Texas to see the president.
The president’s larger reelection strategy aims to win in blue states such as Nevada, New Hampshire and New Mexico, which the campaign has identified as vulnerable in 2020.
“We saw in the data thousands of voters who did not vote for the president in 2016 show up to a rally, come listen to the president and register [to vote],” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told reporters last week. “I’ve continued to say the president’s policies are a win for Latino voters across America … and one of the first symbols of this was the El Paso rally.”
The Trump campaign views the president’s hardline on immigration as a signature issue that’s resonated in the border state.
“As we started doing polling there, we saw a dramatic increase from 2016 and I went over this with the president and he said, ‘Let’s go straight into Albuquerque,'” Parscale added.
The rally in New Mexico comes just weeks after the president first took his campaign into a blue state with a rally in New Hampshire in late August, a state he lost by fewer than 3,000 votes in 2016.
The campaign is already seeing one of the best responses for registrations regarding Monday’s rally, and according to Parscale, it’s a testament to the president’s policies resonating in the area.
“New Mexico is a state that the Trump’s policies are really working,” he added.
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