President Donald Trump's campaign rally for Kansas Republicans on Saturday celebrated confirmation for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and toasted the prospects of a surge toward victory by GOP candidates for governor and Congress struggling for a clean edge in red-state Kansas.
The rally for 11,000 people inside the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka was part of a national tour designed to energize the base on behalf of Republican candidates ahead of November midterm elections, but the U.S. Senate's 50-48 affirmation of Kavanaugh hours before Trump took the stage allowed the president to boast of victory well ahead of Election Day.
"I stand before you today on the heels of a tremendous victory for our nation," Trump said. "I want to thank our incredible Republican senators for refusing to back down in the face of the Democrats' shameless campaign. Radical Democrats launched a disgraceful campaign."
Trump's latest pick for the nation's highest court — despite controversial allegations of sexual misconduct — survived the bitter scramble to snag a seat. While some of Trump's most loyal supporters raised their voices inside the arena, Trump's critics, many inspired by the Kavanaugh feud, made their presence felt outside on a chilly, wet evening.
Trump devoted a chunk of his speech to touting growth in the U.S. economy, as well as his administration's domestic and foreign policy achievements. He repeatedly articulated the legislative stakes of failing to elect enough Republicans to maintain GOP majorities in the U.S. House and Senate.
He urged Kansans to vote for Republican congressional candidate Steve Watkins, of the 2nd District, and Kris Kobach, the GOP nominee for governor. The only member of the Kansas congressional delegation the president skipped was U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, who is in a challenging re-election campaign in the moderate-leaning 3rd District and didn't attend the rally.
"In their quest for power, the radical Democrats have turned into an angry mob," the president said. "Each of you will have a chance in just four weeks to render your verdict, on the Democrats' conduct, at the ballot box."
Trump said election of strong GOP majorities in Congress would thwart consideration of reckless ideas embraced by Democrats. He said the Senate was especially important because there could be three or four more seats on the Supreme Court up for grabs in the next six years.
"If you allow the wrong people to get into office, things could change. They could change and they could change fast," Trump said. "You don't hand matches to an arsonist and you don't give power to an angry left-wing mob. And, that's what they've become. The Democrats have become too extreme and too dangerous to govern."
At one point, Trump joked that someone suggested he skip the Topeka rally because of the Senate's landmark confirmation vote of Kavanaugh, but he "didn't have the courage" to disappoint so many people in Kansas.
"No way I'm canceling it. No way," he said.
At several junctures in his speech, to Trump's pleasure, the crowd chanted "USA, USA" and "drain the swamp, drain the swamp."
"The only reason to vote Democrat is if you're tired of winning," he said to thunderous applause.
The president spoke favorably of Gov. Jeff Colyer, who was narrowly defeated by Kobach in the August primary. He explained why he endorsed Kobach days before voters went to the polls rather than the sitting GOP governor.
"Jeff is a great guy. He's doing a really incredible job ... but I didn't know Jeff. I told Jeff, I said, 'Nothing personal. I just didn't know you.' You have one hell of a governor, and I think we have to talk about bringing him down to Washington."
Trump invited Kobach to the stage to deliver an attack on his gubernatorial rival, Democrat Laura Kelly, who Trump castigated as "not too big" on the Second Amendment right to bear arms. The president said he was so fond of Kobach that if he lost the campaign for governor in November, the White House would be calling.
"He's tough. He's strong. And I hated that he ran because I would have loved to have brought him into my administration," said Trump, before offering a self-interested reason for Kobach to lose the campaign. "In fact, if he loses, I'll bring him into my administration. I hope he loses, because I want him so badly."
Kobach, who was co-chairman of the now-defunct presidential commission on voting integrity, stood next to Colyer to greet the president when he stepped off Air Force One at Forbes Field. A crowd of several hundred people, mostly military families and Republican loyalists, also were there to see the president on the tarmac.
In the Expocentre speech, Trump ran through a list of politicians he felt worthy of ridicule. Trump said he sometimes considered before going to bed which Democrats might challenge him for the presidency in 2020. He chuckled at the thought of running against U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, or former Vice President "Sleepy" Joe Biden.
Trump singled out U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, for a tongue lashing. He indicated he didn't believe Feinstein's denial about leaking Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford's letter alleging sexual assault.
"Remember the leaking, right? The leaking Dianne Feinstein," Trump said.