Donald Trump’s poll numbers are faltering in deep-red states from South Carolina to Georgia, his organization is a mess in perhaps the most important county in Ohio, and he admits that he has a “tremendous problem” in Utah, which hasn’t gone Democratic since 1964.
And yet, on Saturday, Trump is hosting a rally in Fairfield County, Conn., a county that Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama by 11 percentage points, in a state that hasn’t voted Republican since 1988.
It’s a move that is flummoxing and infuriating Republicans who believe Trump should be spending time and resources in winnable states, not in a place that few consider to be competitive.
“At this point, Florida looks in trouble, North Carolina looks in trouble, they don’t even know who their people are in Ohio,” said Charlie Harper, a prominent conservative writer who runs a think tank in Georgia, where Trump is sliding in the polls. “He can go have lunch in Connecticut and be home for supper, but the map is changing rapidly in the opposite direction. Hillary Clinton is not going to move in to defend Connecticut just because Trump went there.”
It’s unlikely she’ll need to, given the strong Democratic bent of the state, which has a Democratic governor, an entirely Democratic congressional delegation and voted for Obama by 18 percentage points in 2012. Former GOP Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut has also recently endorsed her over Trump.
Clinton does, however, have a fundraiser scheduled in tony Greenwich, Conn. on Monday—candidates often come to the moneyed New York suburbs located in the state for fundraising.
Trump’s spokeswoman didn’t respond when asked if he would also be doing fundraising during his swing through the state, an activity that veteran Republicans said would be more strategic than the planned rally. But even then, they questioned why he would spend significant time doing public events in a state—and region–he is unlikely to win.
“No one in the world thinks he has a shot in Connecticut,” said Stuart Stevens, Romney’s 2012 chief strategist. He went on to add, “I mean, he’s not going to win any state within that media market.”
Trump will be doing a rally Saturday night at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., a wealthy, well-educated, liberal town about an hour outside of Manhattan.
The decision comes after days of bad news for Trump, in both battleground states and in states that are not typically considered competitive.
For example, earlier this week, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the Trump operation in Ohio was still struggling to open a campaign office and to find local leadership to guide his efforts in Hamilton County, a critical area in southwestern Ohio where Trump must run up big numbers. A spate of polls show closer-than-expected races in deeply Republican states from South Carolina to Kansas. And on Thursday, Trump spelled out his challenges in states from Utah and Virginia to Pennsylvania and Ohio.
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