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Trump reinforces Michigan’s import with Friday visit

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will rally supporters in suburban Lansing on Friday afternoon, returning to Michigan for the second time in as many weeks as he works to boost sluggish poll numbers here.

The real estate mogul is scheduled to hold a 3:30 p.m. rally at The Summit Sports and Ice Complex in Dimondale, according to an updated campaign schedule. Doors for the Friday rally are expected to open at 12:30 a.m., and the public can request tickets online.

It makes sense for Trump to target Michigan in his bid for the White House, experts said Tuesday, but at least one was “baffled” by the decision to hold a rally in mid-Michigan rather than another area of the state where the Republican still needs to shore up GOP support.

Trump’s Michigan campaign could not provide additional details on the planned event, but state director Scott Hagerstrom said in a statement he is looking forward to the visit.

“Unlike Hillary Clinton and her corrupt pay-to-play political schemes and promise of drift under a third Obama term, Donald Trump has a real plan to revitalize Michigan’s economy, support our law enforcement and keep us safe,” Hagerstrom said.

Clinton, the Democratic nominee, led Trump by nine percentage points in a Detroit News-WDIV poll of likely Michigan voters conducted July 30-Aug. 1. Trump and Clinton both campaigned in the state last week, touting their respective economic plans.

“Obviously his campaign is seeing something in the numbers that says it’s worth visiting Michigan again, that we may still be in play as a state,” said GOP consultant John Truscott.

Trump has “no choice” but to focus on Michigan, said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, whose latest “crystal ball” forecast pegs the Great Lakes state as a likely win for Clinton.

The New York businessman has two realistic paths to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, Sabato said. One path requires him to win every state won by Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 and pick up Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin.

“Trump has to ignore the polls or pretend they are all wrong and campaign in a fashion that can produce 270 electors,” Sabato said in an email to The Detroit News. “It’s either make-believe or surrender.”

Clinton leads Trump in most parts of Michigan, including the traditional Republican strongholds of west and southwest Michigan, according to the recent poll. But the Trump has expressed optimism he can win the state this fall and has made a concerted attempt to woo blue-collar voters.

Pollster Richard Czuba said Tuesday he was “baffled” by the Trump campaign’s decision to hold a Friday afternoon rally in Mid-Michigan rather than west Michigan or a population center like Oakland County, suggesting the planning amounts to “political malpractice.”

“They keep saying Michigan is a state they need, so from that point of view, OK get to Michigan,” Czuba said. “But if you come to Michigan claiming you’re going to win the state, then go win your base. He’s not even doing well with his base right now.”

Truscott, who recalled then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s campaigning at the same Dimondale sports complex in 2004, said the venue makes sense logistically and will allow Trump to attract media attention from both sides of the state.

“All the cameras will be there,” he said.

Trump spoke last Monday at a Detroit Economic Club luncheon in the Cobo Center, outlining new tax policy and regulatory proposals in an address widely viewed as an attempt to refocus his campaign. Clinton spoke four days later at a manufacturing facility in Warren, touching on her own economic plans while arguing that Trump’s would benefit the wealthy.

Trump’s planned Dimondale speech comes on the heels of a national security address Monday in Ohio, where he called for “extreme vetting” of immigrants seeking admission into the United States and reiterated his plans to temporarily ban immigration from “volatile regions” of the world.

Trump also said he would end attempted “nation building” overseas and proposed a new commission to identify, explain and develop tools to counter “radical Islam.”

He was expected to campaign Tuesday night in Wisconsin ahead of his Friday stop in Michigan.

joosting@detroitnews.com