Trump to hold first 2020 rally in Toledo

Detroit News staff and wire reports

West Palm Beach, Fla. – President Donald Trump will hold his first rally of 2020 in Ohio next month, potentially coinciding with the beginnings of the Senate impeachment trial.

The Trump campaign announced Monday that he will speak at the “Keep America Great” rally in Toledo on Jan. 9. The Senate impeachment trial is expected to start that week, though it may be delayed as lawmakers argue over whether to call new witnesses.

President Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Mich., on Dec. 18, 2019.

Ohio, once an extremely competitive swing state, has trended more Republican in recent years, with Trump winning the state by an 8 percentage point margin in 2016. A repeat victory in the state is vital to the president’s hopes for reelection in November.

Trump's Toledo visit will also mean the president will be geographically close to Michigan, a state he won by less than 1 percentage point in 2016.

Toledo is about a 55-minute drive from Detroit. And some southern Michigan residents fall within the Toledo TV market.

John Sellek, CEO of the Michigan based consulting business Harbor Strategic Public Affairs, said Trump is focused "like a laser on blue-collar, working-class people, including those who didn't vote in 2018 or aren't even registered."

"A visit to Toledo is another example of this, and it's a two-for-one by hitting media markets in both Michigan and Ohio," said Sellek, who's worked with Republicans. "It's a very efficient use of the candidate's time."

In 2016, Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton by just 10,704 in Michigan, his closest margin of victory. He also visited the state for a rally in Battle Creek on Dec. 18 — the same day the U.S. House voted in favor of two articles of impeachment against him.

"It doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached," Trump told an estimated crowd of 5,400 at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek. "The country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong."

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Trump's 2020 re-election campaign, has previously said the campaign wants to hold the states it won in 2016, like Ohio and Michigan, while also trying to expand its victories elsewhere.

Vice President Mike Pence made appearances in multiple Michigan cities in December, including Battle Creek, Grand Rapids and Holland.

During a stop in Holland on Dec. 4, Pence said he and Trump will visit Michigan "again and again and again" ahead of the 2020 election.

Detroit News Staff Writer Craig Mauger and Associated Press contributed.