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Analysis: Buoyed by polls, at Florida rally Trump paints impeachment as probe of all conservatives

John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

Donald Trump strode onstage Tuesday night in Florida -- king of the battleground states -- and began slinging "Make America Great Again" caps into the crowd. Minutes later, the president prompted a new "Bull---t!" chant and a familiar one: "Lock her up!"

But perhaps no moment was more telling about his emerging reelection message than what he told the crowd inside Sunrise's BB&T Center about House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

Trump has been noticeably agitated about the probe for weeks, and again on Tuesday night he dubbed it a "witch hunt" and a "hoax." But he also described the impeachment inquiry as more than just an investigation into what multiple witnesses have described as his withholding of both a $400 million military aid package to Ukraine and a White House meeting until Ukraine's new president would announce investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden, now a candidate for president.

Trump told his backers House Democrats are out to get all conservatives.

"The lies of the Democrats are being exposed, their schemes are unraveling," Trump said to boos before accusing Democrats of "crimes" without describing them or providing evidence. "These are crooked people, but their crimes are being revealed and their sinister plans are failing at a level that nobody thought, even me, possible.

"The radical Democrats are trying to overturn the last election because they know that they cannot win the next election -- it's very simple," Trump said of an impeachment probe and allegations against him.

 

But the Tuesday rally showed the president appears to be betting that voters will decide House Democrats have failed to uncover enough evidence to justify removing him from office -- and that his conservative base will be energized to punish the opposition party in November.

"The failed Washington establishment is trying to stop me because I'm fighting for you and because we're winning. It's very simple," the president said as the crowd cheered.

In short, Trump is banking that the longer the impeachment drama plays out, enough voters in a handful of 2020 battleground states will conclude of the probe, in his words: "That's really bull---t!"

He and his team sense a shift in public opinion, with aides citing polls showing opposition to the inquiry growing in swing states like Wisconsin. Trump mocked Democrats Tuesday night, suggesting they already have shot themselves in the foot.

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