Trump counters Senate impeachment trial with Midwest visit

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President Donald Trump poses for photos as he meets with Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benitez at the White House, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — President Donald Trump is serving up counterprogramming to his impeachment trial on Thursday by visiting two Midwestern states that he views as crucial to his reelection.

Trump will address workers at a manufacturing plant in Michigan to celebrate the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico that he signed into law a day earlier. From there, he was headed to Iowa for a campaign rally in Des Moines ahead of Monday’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.

At his signing ceremony, Trump heralded the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, better known as USMCA, as the reason he sought the presidency. He is pitching the new agreement as a promise kept and a reason voters should give him a second term.

“It’s probably the No. 1 reason that I decided to lead this crazy life that I’m leading right now, as opposed to that beautiful, simple life of luxury that I led before this happened,” Trump said Wednesday.

As the president heads to Iowa, four of the Democratic contenders looking to replace him have been forced to step off the campaign trail to serve as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado are among those seeking the Democratic nomination.

Trump also is on the ballot, though he’s not facing serious GOP competition. His campaign views Monday’s Iowa caucuses and the Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary as presenting both a challenge to meet sky-high expectations and an opportunity to flex political strength.

Both Democrats and Republicans would love to win Iowa. President Barack Obama captured the state twice, while Trump brought it back to the GOP in 2016. Democrats made gains there during the 2018 midterms and are hoping to return it — and other crucial Midwestern states — to their column in November.

The campaign will launch an all-out surrogate offensive in Iowa following the Des Moines rally. In New Hampshire, the campaign is conducting a monthlong test of its voter turnout operation, including 10,000 volunteer phone calls and dozens of volunteer training sessions. It will culminate in a Trump rally in Manchester on the eve of the vote.

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