Watch: Trump holds rally in Tennessee to help GOP in key Senate race

Posted at 7:02 PM, May 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-29 21:14:36-04

President Donald Trump is visiting Tennessee on Tuesday night to boost Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Senate campaign.

Trump will be in Nashville for a fundraiser and to speak at a campaign rally for Blackburn, the Republican running to replace the retiring Sen. Bob Corker.

Blackburn has trailed in recent public polls to popular Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen. A Mason-Dixon poll last month found Bredesen ahead by three percentage points, and a Middle Tennessee State University survey in March showed Bredesen with a 10-point edge.

But Trump is popular in Tennessee too. He trounced Hillary Clinton there in 2016, winning 61% of the vote to Clinton’s 35%. A recent Vanderbilt University poll showed that Trump has a 53% approval rating, with 43% disapproving of his performance.

The Tennessee race has major implications for control of the Senate, where Republicans have a 51 to 49 majority and can afford a net loss of just one seat in November’s midterm elections. Democrats are eyeing Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee and even potentially Texas as possible pick-up opportunities. But the party is also defending 10 seats in states Trump won in 2016 — five of which Trump won by double digits.

Corker plans to greet Trump at the airport in Nashville and attend the night’s events with the President. That’s a major development for the Tennessee GOP: Corker had been a thorn in Republicans’ side in the race to replace him, calling Bredesen a friend and only offering a tepid endorsement of Blackburn.

For Trump, the trip to Tennessee comes as part of a ramped-up midterm travel schedule. He has recently hit the road to rail against endangered Senate Democrats, including Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.