Former President Barack Obama’s national campaign tour to boost Democratic candidates takes an unusual path Sunday with an Indiana rally for Sen. Joe Donnelly, who has sounded more like Donald Trump while trying to persuade voters in the conservative Midwestern state to grant him a second term.
Obama’s rally for the Democratic senator in Gary will be sandwiched between his successor’s trips to the state Friday and Monday on behalf of GOP Senate candidate Mike Braun.
For Braun, a businessman who has campaigned as a steadfast Trump ally, the current president’s appearances in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne are no-brainers in a state he won two years ago by 19 points. But for Donnelly, who frequently touts how often he votes with Trump, the Obama rally is a little more complicated.
“If he does need to inoculate himself from some of his firmer conservative rhetoric, it’s a pretty effective way to do it,” said Christina Hale, a former state lawmaker and the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2016.
Donnelly has angered some Democrats by tacking to the right in recent weeks and embracing some of Trump’s pet priorities, such as building a border wall with Mexico.
Obama, on the other hand, has proven a polarizing figure with independent and Republican voters and is credited with some of Indiana’s rightward political shift, even though he won the state in 2008.
To win in Tuesday’s election, Donnelly not only needs high turnout from his party’s base but also must peel off some moderate Republicans and independents.
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SOURCE: The Washington Times, Brian Slodysko; The Associated Press