SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — America is winning again, and America is respected again.
That was the message President Donald Trump delivered to a crowd of at least 10,000 Friday night in Springfield during a rally to campaign for senatorial candidate Josh Hawley. It was Trump's third visit to Missouri in the past year.
Flanked by a “Promises Made” banner on the left and a “Promises Kept” banner on the right, Trump called on his base to flock to the polls in November. Speaking at JQH Arena on the campus of Missouri State University, Trump railed on Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, and relived his 2016 election win.
“He’s a real star,” Trump said of Hawley. “We need Josh in the Senate to fight for Missouri and really to fight for our whole country.”
Hawley, Missouri’s attorney general, is running against McCaskill, the Democratic incumbent. Recent polls have the race as a virtual toss-up with less than two months to go.
The loudest boos of the night came at first mention of McCaskill, when Hawley praised Trump and went on the offensive against McCaskill in the about 3 minutes that he spoke. Hawley is billing himself as someone who won’t forget Missouri when he goes to Washington, unlike McCaskill.
“There’s somebody in the state of Missouri that hasn’t heard what you’ve been telling her,” Hawley said. “I don’t know who she’s with, but she’s not with the state of Missouri."
McCaskill and Hawley held their first debate in St. Louis last week, where McCaskill emphasized her bipartisanship and criticized Hawley for joining a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.
Hawley has joined other state attorneys general in a lawsuit that seeks to get the Affordable Care Act rendered unconstitutional. McCaskill has said Hawley is seeking to strip Missourians of health care protections, while Hawley has said he supports keeping protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.
In a broader point about Medicare and Medicaid, Trump said Republicans will work to protect pre-existing conditions.
“I will always protect pre-existing conditions, and Josh Hawley will protect pre-existing conditions,” Trump said. “Democrats want to raid Medicare to pay for their socialism.”
Trump doubled down on a series of tweets he fired off Friday morning calling into question the credibility of sexual assault allegations made against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. In the tweets, Trump called Kavanaugh a “fine man” and said if the assault had happened, the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, would have filed a report with authorities.
Ford alleges that Kavanaugh assaulted her during a party in high school, and sent a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in July and requested confidentiality. Feinstein just recently referred the letter to the FBI, and Republicans have said the delay in making the allegations public is another tactic by Democrats to hinder Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
At the rally, Trump stood behind Kavanaugh, calling him a “fantastic” man.
“We have to fight for Kavanaugh,” Trump said. "He was born for the U.S. Supreme Court, and it’s going to happen."
Senate Republicans have asked Ford and Kavanaugh to testify, but Ford’s attorneys have requested an FBI investigation be conducted before testifying.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Friday morning at the Value Voters Summit that Kavanaugh would be confirmed “in the very near future” and that the GOP would “plow right through” the confirmation process.
Hawley also offered support for Kavanaugh Friday night.
“The president said he was going to put pro-Constitution judges on the bench and he has,” Hawley said. “Judges who love the Constitution, judges who love our country, judges like Brett Kavanaugh.”
Department of Justice and Rod Rosenstein
The New York Times reported Friday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested secretly recording Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment. Rosenstein denied the Times' report, calling it “factually inaccurate.”
It’s the latest development in the feud between the Department of Justice and Trump. He fired FBI Director James Comey last year and then fired Comey’s replacement, Andrew McCabe, earlier this year.
Trump has criticized both the FBI and Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Trump, in an interview with The Hill on Wednesday, said he doesn't have an attorney general.
While Trump did not directly mention Rosenstein on Friday, he vowed to get rid of the “stench” within the Department of Justice.
“You’ve seen what’s happened at the FBI, they’re all gone,” Trump said. “But there’s a lingering stench, and we’re going to get rid of that, too.”