By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) It may not seem like much in the great scheme of things, but President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign is making a serious play for New Mexico and its five electoral votes, if for no other reason than to flip a long-time blue state over to the red column.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that, shortly after he secured the GOP nomination in May 2016, he told a crowd in New Mexico, “We’re going to win this state.” Six months later, however, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton defeated him there by 8 points.
And since then, Democrats have bolstered their power in the arid, largely rural state. But no matter: The president is convinced he can compete for New Mexico and even win it in November 2020.
On Monday, the president will return to the state with a rally near Albuquerque, the WSJ noted, his first trip there since taking office. It’s one of a handful of states the well-financed Trump-Pence campaign believes it can flip red.
But that comes amid increasing concerns that the president can hold onto so-called “blue wall” states he won in 2016 including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan — crucial to his victory.
“We go into states with the assumption that we’re going to win,” said Rick Gorka, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
He added that the campaign is preparing to announce staff hiring for New Mexico and will invest in voter registration efforts there. The Trump/Pence campaign in 2016 did not do either of those things.
The WSJ noted further that additional states the campaign would like to pick up were not as ‘out of reach’ as New Mexico was in 2016:
Other states the campaign is eyeing as pickups, including Minnesota, New Hampshire and Nevada, were closer in 2016 than New Mexico, causing some skepticism even among Republicans. The state hasn’t favored a Republican for president since 2004. Following Mr. Trump’s election, Democrats have taken back the governor’s mansion, increased a hold on the legislature and now control all three Congressional seats.
“We take nothing for granted but the fact that the Trump campaign says their path forward lies through New Mexico is an indication they don’t have a realistic argument about a path to 270 electoral votes,” said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.
The Trump campaign, obviously, disagrees.
The president plans to make his case in New Mexico and elsewhere touting the red-hot economy, among other policies. He plans to highlight his trade battles and will tout the fact that unemployment is at all-time lows for minorities, including Hispanics who make up 40 percent of New Mexico’s population.
His campaign also believes they can draw a huge distinction between the very Left-wing policy shifts that have occurred in the state since Democrats have taken over. Lawmakers and the governor have pushed for more abortion access, gun control, and gender-neutral bathrooms, among other policies.
In addition, the GOP wants to exploit possible division over environmental policies pursued by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that are harmful to the state’s oil and gas industry.
In March she signed legislation that mandates emissions-free electricity generation by 2045. Also, several top Democrats are campaigning on additional environmental policies that would be harmful or even fatal to the state’s fracking industry, which is feeding great sums of money into the New Mexico economy.
“New Mexico has a long liberal perspective, but there has been an overreach,” said Republican state Rep. Rod Montoya. “There is an opportunity here.”
As for the president’s rhetoric on illegal immigration and the border wall, which New Mexico Republicans have criticized, Trump believes his positions resonate with Hispanics who want border security and for people to enter their country legally.
Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale also said polling indicates that the president’s tough trade stance with China is resonating with Hispanics as well.
“President Trump won a very, very narrow electoral victory in 2016, so it’s natural to try to spread the field going into 2020,” Michael Steel, a former top Republican House aide who isn’t involved in the campaign, told the WSJ. “It’s impossible to know if it’s realistic until we know his opponent, but given his campaign’s vast resources, there’s no reason not to try.”
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