Trump returns to Michigan hoping to repeat battlefield success he found in 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Donald Trump is set to appear in Michigan on Sunday as he seeks to reclaim territory that helped propel him to the White House but eluded him four years later.

Campaigning for a return to the presidency while facing federal indictment for allegedly mishandling classified documents, Trump will speak in suburban Detroit, where he lost ground between 2016 and 2020 and is expected to win it back. he became the Republican nominee of 2024. He is expected to reverse the recent trend in Michigan that has seen Democrats make some of their biggest nationwide gains since Trump’s re-election loss.

Trump is scheduled to speak at the Oakland County GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner, where he is honored by the party as “man of the decade.”

It will be his first campaign appearance in Michigan, one of three states, along with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which swung in 2016 to put Trump in the White House and opted for Democrat Joe Biden four years later.

Trump’s popularity in Michigan has taken a hit since 2016.

“By Trump’s calculations, he has to win Michigan again to be president. But he’s been very disruptive here,” said Dave Trott, a former GOP congressman. “Trump is a big part of the reason the Michigan Republican Party is dead.”

Last year, Trump-endorsed candidates in Michigan were among the most vocal in repeating his baseless claims that the 2020 election was rigged.

Trump’s choice for attorney general, Matthew DePerno, has spent the final months of his campaign under investigation over whether he should face criminal charges for trying to access voting machines after the 2020 election. for secretary of state Kristina Karamo, a former community college professor, was handpicked by Trump to run for secretary of state after claiming she saw voter fraud as a candidate on the ballot in Detroit.

In November, the statewide candidates he supported were overwhelmingly defeated, including Tudor Dixon, who lost more than 10 percentage points to Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Michigan Republicans controlled every level of government in the state from 2011 to 2019. Today, they are powerless for the first time in 40 years. The shift was particularly evident in Oakland County, home to the highest number of Republican voters in the state.

“People who know Michigan electoral politics would say it’s pretty important that if Republicans want to carry the state, they have to win Oakland County,” Trott said.

While Trump lost the county in 2016 and 2020, Biden received nearly 100,000 more votes than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and won the state by about 155,000 votes, or 2.8 percentage points.

Trott, who represented Oakland County in the U.S. House from 2015 to 2019, originally endorsed Trump in 2016 but later said Trump was “unfit for office.” Support for Trump among Republicans in the Legislature has dwindled, with 25 lawmakers having already publicly backed the Florida governor. Ron DeSantis for President.

Among state GOP officials, however, support for Trump has not waned. In February, delegates from the Republican precinct chose Karamo to lead the party after losing 14% midterm. One of the first steps taken by the new party leadership was to vote to change the state’s traditional process of allocating all presidential delegates based on an open primary.

Under a new plan widely believed to help Trump, Michigan will award just 16 of the state’s 55 delegates based on the results of the Feb. 27 primary. The distribution of the remaining 39 delegates will take place four days later in closed caucus meetings, led by the same party members who chose Karamo to lead the party.

“The plan gives Trump a significant head start over the rest of the field. He’s a grassroots favorite in the state and he’s made Michigan his political playground for the past seven years,” said former Michigan GOP executive director Jason Cabel Roe.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Karamo said she would remain impartial in the primary. She argues the party was forced to make the switch after Michigan Democrats voted to move the state’s primary from the second week of March to February 27, a violation of Republican National Committee rules that could have resulted in loss of delegates.

When asked if Trump or his team pushed for the change in the presidential primary, Karamo declined to answer. She said she doesn’t “discuss conversations with the various campaigns.”

“We want to protect the voice of Michigan voters. So whether or not it might help one candidate over another, it doesn’t matter,” Karamo said.

According to Karamo, the Michigan GOP has “worked through” the plan with the RNC and expects the national party to approve the new primary set-p.

The RNC said its conversations with the state party “have focused on rules and process rather than the substance and language of Karamo’s specific plan – the kind of guidance they offer each state party as ‘they are beginning to formulate their individual pathways for delegate selection’.

“We look forward to reviewing each state and territory’s plans,” RNC spokeswoman Emma Vaughn said in a statement.


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