Trump campaign aide rallies female voters for 2020 election

Troy — Trump campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson rallied the president’s female supporters Thursday during an event in Troy as President Donald Trump shore up their vote ahead of a re-election bid in 2020. 

About 100 women gathered at the American Polish Cultural Center to cheer on Trump and mobilize supporters. Elsewhere, surrogates spread out across important battleground states to make the president's case on the economy and to train campaign volunteers.

Kathy Zalmanski, left, of Clinton Township, and Lisa Mankiewicz, Shelby Township show their support for Trump in 2020 at An Evening to Empower at the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy on Thursday. (Brandy Baker / Special to the Detroit News)

“You are the cavalry here,” Pierson told a crowd at the voter registration training event in Troy, a suburb viewed as key contested territory in this swing state. “There is no president in our lifetime that has done more to advance the interests of women than President Donald J. Trump.”

The rallies and training are a recognition of the president’s persistent deficit with women. Over the course of his presidency and across public opinion polls, women have been consistently less supportive of Trump than men. Suburban women in particular rejected Republicans in the 2018 midterm by margins that set off alarms for the party and the president.

The most recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found just 30% of women approve of the way the president is doing his job, compared to 42% of men. Notably, there was no gap between Republican men and women — 80% of both groups said they approved of his job performance in the August poll.

Whittney Williams, a Canton Township resident who is running against U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, a Democrat, for Congress, said she believes Trump will win Michigan again in 2020.

Trump Re-election Campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson, left, poses for a photo Thursday with Denise Edwards of Royal Oak.

"His economy is doing so well for southeast Michigan," Williams said. "So I believe the success of the economics will definitely help my campaign."

Michigan Republican Party chairwoman Laura Cox said women's issues were a focus "because this is the 99th anniversary of women's right to vote."

Cox added: "I don't like to singularize issues. Everything that's good for women is good for men."

Billed as an “Evening to Empower” the event was sponsored by the Trump Victory Leadership Initiative.

Among the women in Troy was Cara McAlister, a sales representative from Bloomfield Township. She said that she always votes but that it was not until Trump’s 2016 candidacy that she was inspired to get more involved politically, becoming a GOP precinct delegate and canvassing door to door for him.

She said she has friends who were afraid to reveal their support for Trump because they worried about backlash. So she invites them to meetings like Thursday’s gathering.

“They really enjoy being in an atmosphere where they feel free to express their support for the president,” said McAlister, who was wearing a white “Make America Great Again” cap and blue Trump-Pence shirt and who described herself as “middle age.” ″They tend to want to go to another event.”

Pierson's speech stuck to largely discussing economic issues, focusing on job creation and the state of the economy, though some economics and others worry about an economic slowdown in the run-up to the 2020 election.

Some argue the U.S. economy appears to be showing vulnerabilities after more than 10 years of growth. Factory output has fallen and consumer confidence has waned as Trump has ramped up his trade fight with China.

Pierson's biggest applause came when she talked about what she called the revival of manufacturing.

"Remember when President Obama said someone is going to have to wave a wand for the manufacturing jobs to return? Well, abracadabra," Pierson said.

Hosted by the Trump Victory Leadership Initiative (TVLI), Trump Re-election Campaign Senior Adviser Katrina Pierson, left, poses for a photo with Sandra Haroutunian, Clinton Township, at “An Evening to Empower" held in the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy, Michigan on August 22, 2019. (Brandy Baker / Special to the Detroit News)

Trump has made it a priority to boost U.S. manufacturing. Even so, the nation’s trade deficit has continued to grow under his watch, widening to a decade-long high of $621 billion in 2018, according to the Associated Press.

In a May poll of 600 likely voters in Michigan, 58% of the women participating disapproved of Trump’s performance, according to the Lansing-based Glengariff Group.

About 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of Trump’s overall job performance, according to the poll released Thursday by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which finds some support for the president’s handling of the U.S. economy but gives him weak marks on other major issues.

Just 36% of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president; 62% disapprove, the poll showed. 

"Donald Trump has given Michigan workers nothing more than lip service and lies," Michigan Democratic Party chairwoman Lavora Barnes said in a statement Thursday. "His failed agenda has devastated working families throughout the state, and Michigan voters will hold him accountable for his broken promises."

Kathy Zelmanski of Clinton Township said the large audience showed the strength of Trump's reach in Metro Detroit.

"I don't care what the media says," Zelmanski said, wearing a shirt emblazoned with Trump's name. "His support is definitely here."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.