President's daughter-in-law: 'Vote for Trump-supporting Republicans'

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump, speaks during a campaign fundraiser for GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette in Birmingham on Tuesday.

Birmingham — Another branch of the Trump family tree stopped in Michigan Tuesday as President Donald Trump's daughter-in-law threw her support behind several Republican candidates, starting with a fundraising luncheon for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette.

Lara Trump spoke to grassroots activists and Trump supporters after the luncheon, urging them to head to the polls in November. 

“You’ve got to get out and you’ve got to vote for Trump-supporting Republicans up and down the ticket,” she said. “And don’t stop there. Go get your neighbors, go get your friends, round everybody up and make sure they understand how important it is to get out and vote.”

A surge in mid-term absentee ballot requests and early returns may bode well for Michigan Democrats seeking to pick up congressional seats and regain at least some control in Lansing after eight years of majority Republican rule, experts have said. Republicans have been doing extensive outreach to registered voters and argue their supporters are energized.

Lara Trump’s visit in Birmingham was part of a tour of Southeast Michigan supporting Republican candidates that was scheduled to include stops for U.S. House hopeful Lena Epstein in Livonia, U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg in Monroe, and U.S Senate candidate John James in Jackson. Lara Trump is married to Donald Trump’s third child Eric Trump.

Tickets to Schuette’s fundraiser in Birmingham, chaired by business consultants Tom and Laurie Cunnington, were $1,000 per couple, according to an invitation obtained by The Detroit News. 

Michigan Democratic Party spokesman Sam Newton criticized Schuette for finding "time for a photo-op with anyone named Trump" but not opposing a new rule from the Trump administration on the Affordable Care Act.

"That’s exactly why he’s wrong for Michigan families," Newton said in a statement. 

In Livonia, Lara Trump touted the president's tax cuts while speaking to a crowd of Republican supporters beside Epstein. She and Epstein emphasized the importance of keeping the GOP majority in Congress and hinted at a swell in Republican enthusiasm since the confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“If you have any question, by the way, about what it would like if the Democrats took control, look at the Kavanaugh confirmation,” Lara Trump said. “Look at that disgrace. Look at the mess they made of things.”

Epstein acknowledged a tight contest against Democratic opponent Haley Stevens in the 11th district, a race The Cook Political report ranked as “leans Democratic.” But she said she is optimistic about her chances.

“The momentum is extraordinarily reminiscent of what happened in 2016,” Epstein said, referring to President Trump's 10,704-vote victory in Michigan.

Lara Trump told The Detroit News she was uncertain whether other members of the Trump family would make stops in Michigan in the next two weeks. She was doubtful of polling suggesting the president’s favorability among voters is waning.

About 56 percent of respondents had an unfavorable opinion of Trump, compared with 36 percent favorable, in a Sept. 30-Oct. 2 poll of 600 likely voters conducted for The News.

“I don’t know that people are always super truthful when it comes to polls and the president,” Lara Trump said. “We saw in 2016 that the polls did not fully reflect what was happening out there in the country.”

Farmington Hills businessman James has garnered a few different visits from the Trump family. Donald Trump Jr. campaigned last week with James in Pontiac, and the Iraq veteran met with the president in the Oval office in mid-September.

Schuette, a Midland Republican and current state attorney general, has trailed Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in polling of the gubernatorial race. James has also consistently trailed Stabenow.  

Walberg represents a Republican-leaning 7th Congressional District, where he faces Democratic opponent Gretchen Driskell.

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