- The Washington Times
Thursday, November 14, 2019

NEW ORLEANS — President Trump chided Democrats for “doing nothing” as he came to Louisiana to campaign Thursday night for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in his bid Saturday to unseat the state’s incumbent Democratic governor.

“We did nothing wrong and they’ve been doing nothing,” Mr. Trump told a crowd in Bossier City gathered for a Keep America Great campaign rally.

The visit was the president’s third to Louisiana in the past month as he hit the hustings for Republican gubernatorial candidates here, but marked his first rally since the House opened public hearings on impeaching him.

“And now the absolutely crazed lunatics, the radical left and their media partners, are pushing the deranged impeachment witch hunt,” he said.

Democrats contend that, in a phone call with the president of Ukraine, Mr. Trump improperly tied U.S. military aid to an investigation into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter.

After weeks of private hearings and carefully controlled transcripts and leaks, the Democratic leadership this week began public hearings geared toward impeaching the president.

Mr. Trump tried to use that political backdrop to motivate those in attendance to cast their gubernatorial ballot Saturday for Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, who has largely self-financed his maiden political bid to oust Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The most recent polls have shown Mr. Rispone and Mr. Edwards in a dead heat, with both hovering just below the 50 percent mark.

A former state representative and West Point graduate, Mr. Edwards has campaigned as a moderate Democrat, and on some issues has governed as one, such as backing a pro-life bill that cost him some left-wing backing. Although he tried to steer clear of Mr. Trump’s swirling issues in Washington and not take sides on impeachment, Mr. Edwards became more combative toward the president as he became more outspoken in his support of Mr. Rispone.

Louisiana’s economy has trailed the rest of the country during its surge under the Trump administration, and indeed job growth in the Pelican State seems to have stopped, according to the latest Labor Department reports, but most economic indicators are positive under Mr. Edwards tenure.

That has led Mr. Edwards to build his re-election pitch as a governor who has overseen an improvement for most residents in the last four years, while Mr. Rispone has painted himself as an outsider who backed President Trump from the very beginning.

Mr. Trump wasted no time Thursday night in rattling off a string of economic accomplishments in his first three years that the Rispone campaign hoped would redound to their credit.

That outsider status was one Mr. Trump also noted Thursday night, as he summoned memories of his upset win in November 2016.

“We took down Bush, Obama and Clinton and we had no experience. But we won,” he said. “Because we had you. I’m taking on the broken political establishment.”

Whether that same playbook will let Mr. Rispone unseat Mr. Edwards is the final unanswered result in a trio of gubernatorial races below the Mason-Dixon line this year.

In Kentucky, Democrats flipped the governor’s mansion with Andy Beshear ekeing out a win over incumbent Republican Matt Bevin, while in Mississippi the GOP held on to the seat when Republican Tate Reeves defeated Democrat Jim Hood by a more comfortable margin than most polls had predicted.

“In two days you can show the Democrats you won’t stand for their socialism and corruption,” Mr. Trump said.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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