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

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WASHINGTON (CNN) – 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.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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