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Campaign Report — Trump returns to a different Washington

FILE – Former President Donald Trump points to the crowd as he arrives to speak at a rally July 22, 2022, in Prescott, Ariz. Trump is returning to Washington for the first time since leaving office to deliver a policy speech Tuesday night, July 26 before allies who have been crafting an agenda for a possible second term. Trump will address the America First Policy Institute’s two-day America First Agenda Summit. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, tracking all things related to the 2022 midterm elections. You can expect this newsletter in your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday leading up to November’s election. 

Email us tips and feedback: Max Greenwood ([email protected]), Julia Manchester ([email protected]), and Caroline Vakil ([email protected]).  

Trump set to speak in DC as 2024 looms

Former President Trump will be returning to a very different Washington, D.C., than the one he left when he gives the keynote speech at an America First Policy Institute (AFPI) summit on Tuesday.

As The Hill’s Brett Samuels writes, Trump’s final weeks in the District were set against the backdrop of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot — a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and sought to stop lawmakers and former Vice President Mike Pence from certifying the 2020 elections — and its aftermath.

Days after the attack, some of his closest allies at the time like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) name-checked the former president for his responsibility related to the Capitol riot and Trump left D.C. before President Biden’s inauguration.

But 18 months later, he will be back in Washington delivering remarks in front of a Trump-friendly audience of former administration officials, and Republican lawmakers and others amid growing anticipation of a potential 2024 presidential announcement.

The president of the think tank, Brooke Rollins, told The Associated Press the speech would be “very much like a State of the Union 5.0.”

“His remarks will highlight the policy failures of Democrats, while laying out an America First vision for public safety that will surely be a defining issue during the midterms and beyond,” Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokesperson, also told the AP.

A lot has changed for Trump since the time last time he was in the nation’s capital, including fragmentation of his relationship with Republicans like Pence. It was the tale of two Republican Parties last Friday when both men stumped for Republican primary opponents in Arizona’s gubernatorial race.

There’s growing speculation that Pence will mount a presidential bid in 2024 as he and others like former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) wade into high-profile races or make appearances in early presidential primary states.

Trump himself has been keeping busy holding a number of campaign rallies in recent months for endorsed candidates in states like Illinois, Nevada and Alaska. But while the former president gets ready to make his next speech later this afternoon, not all Republicans think it’s in his best interest to give the keynote address at the AFPI summit.

“Yes, it is important for President Trump to have a well-credentialed stable of policy experts capable of both building a 2024 platform and finding solid MAGA talent to populate a new Trump Administration. But the AFPI Trojan Horse—whose leadership is now bragging about how it will staff Trump’s ‘shadow cabinet’—is decidedly not that,” former Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro writes in an op-ed on conservative website American Greatness.

You can watch the speech, which is slated to start at 3 p.m. ET, here.

DUELING SPEECHES

Just hours before Trump was set to speak, former Vice President Mike Pence laid out his own vision for the Republican Party and encouraged those within the GOP to not “look back.”

The former vice president spoke during a separate event in Washington, D.C., to the conservative youth organization Young America’s Foundation. 

“I don’t know that the president and I differ on issues. But we may differ on focus,” Pence said.

“I truly do believe that elections are about the future, and that it’s absolutely essential at a time when so many Americans are hurting, so many families are struggling, that we don’t give way to the temptation to look back,” he also noted.

Former President Trump has continued to baselessly claim that the last presidential election was stolen from him, and Pence’s messaging seemed to be subtle jab and reminder for conservatives not to keep turning toward the past, showing the continued divergence between the two men over the last election. 

POLL WATCH

A new poll out by Emerson College Polling and The Hill today shows Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) outpacing his Republican challengers by at least double digits, including former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R).

The poll found that 33 percent of very likely Missouri Republican voters would back Schmitt, with Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) received the next highest percentage at 21 percent. Greitens, who resigned as governor in 2018 after allegations of campaign finance violations and sexual assault of a woman he was dating surfaced, received support from 16 percent of those respondents.

Former White House secretary and Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) waded into the GOP primary on Monday, endorsing the Missouri attorney general. Several major Republicans, including retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), whose seat is being vacated, believe Greitens should drop out of the race as the candidate is embroiled in personal controversy.

TRACKING THE NEXT PRIMARIES

There’s still a number of primaries to go before we enter the general election in full swing and August will be a busy month. Here are the states with primaries still left to go:

  • Aug. 2: Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Washington
  • Aug. 4: Tennessee
  • Aug. 9: Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, Wisconsin
  • Aug. 13: Hawaii
  • Aug. 16: Alaska, Wyoming
  • Aug. 23: Florida, New York (House)
  • Sept. 6: Massachusetts
  • Sept. 13: Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island
  • Nov. 8: Louisiana (same day as general election)

Showdown in Kansas

The Kansas primary may be scheduled for next week, but Republicans and Democrats are already looking ahead to the general election in the governor’s race.

Julia Manchester reports that Republicans view the governor’s mansion in Wichita as a prime pickup opportunity, hoping to unseat Gov. Laura Kelly (D). The Republican Governors Association and their affiliated group Get Families Back to Work have run a number of ads in the state.

Polling has been scarce in the race, but two surveys conducted last year showed a tight race forming between Kelly and Schmidt. A poll released by the left-leaning Clarity Campaign Labs in September showed Kelly narrowly leading Schmidt 47 percent support to 44 percent, with a 3.4 percentage point margin of error. 

But Kelly’s allies point to her high approval ratings in the state going into a year where Democrats up for reelection are facing major headwinds across the country.

A Morning Consult poll released last week showed Kelly with a 56 percent approval rating. Her 23-point advantage over Biden’s approval rating is the largest of any governor facing reelection this year, according to Morning Consult.

And in an overnight development, Kelly’s campaign said she raised roughly $1.5 million during the period between January and July. Meanwhile, Schmidt’s campaign raised roughly $707,000 during the same period.

AD WATCH

Democratic Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Josh Shaprio’s campaign is out with a new ad hitting GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano over his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

The statewide ad refers to Mastriano as a “dangerous risk for the state.”

“In the state legislature, Mastriano introduced a bill to overturn the election results and declare Trump the winner,” the ad’s narrator says. “He even brought Rudy Giuliani to hearings to spread dangerous lies. Because Mastriano doesn’t care about your vote, he wants to pick the winner. A frightening preview of how he’d run Pennsylvania.”

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Campaign page for the latest news and coverage. See you Thursday. 

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