Some media reports preceding Trump’s campaign trip to Nashville to help ‘thrilled’ Blackburn

President Donald Trump’s Tuesday evening trip to Nashville for a Marsh Blackburn fundraiser has been preceded by more national media reporting on Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race, including a Washington Post report suggesting women voters could tilt the race in Democrat Phil Bredesen’s favor.

The article begins with a question posed to Blackburn during a campaign event at the Cumberland County town of Fairfield Glade.

 “How as a woman can you support Donald Trump?” asked Marcia Storrison, a Democratic retiree in this heavily Republican area of hilly green golf courses. “His lies! I believe in facts. . . . I don’t understand how a woman can be supportive of what is going on.”

“Trump is working very hard for us,” replied the Republican congresswoman, touting his record on jobs and the economy.

…In a year when a surging number of female candidates on the left are tapping into support from women such as Storrison, Blackburn — who is facing centrist Democrat and former governor Phil Bredesen in a close Senate race — is taking the opposite tack by embracing the polarizing president.

Blackburn, one of Trump’s most vocal congressional surrogates, shares his hard-line views on immigration and often adopts a similarly pugilistic tone, calling herself “politically incorrect and proud of it.”

…Blackburn’s stance puts her at a distance from many of the women she will need to win over: While 59 percent of male Tennessee voters approve of Trump, only 48 percent of female voters do, according to a Vanderbilt University poll earlier this month.

…Bredesen is ahead in early polls, and many analysts predict the success of Blackburn, the presumptive GOP nominee, could turn on her ability to win over female voters. The Vanderbilt poll showed that 46 percent of women viewed Blackburn favorably, compared with the 72 percent of women who approved of Bredesen.

“They will be one of, if not the, determinant in the race,” said Joshua Clinton, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt. “Gender is going to be a huge component.”

That is a complicated prospect for Blackburn, who asked to be called “congressman” instead of “congresswoman” when she arrived on Capitol Hill and has steered clear of gender in her bid this year — even though she would make history as the state’s first female senator.

When asked in an interview how significant that milestone would be, Blackburn demurred.

“I don’t campaign on the gender issue,” she responded, adding that she is the most qualified person running.

NBC News has a more generalized report that also quotes the Vandy poll and begins with the statement “Marsha Blackburn was a Trump Republican before Donald Trump was a Trump Republican.”

In a Vanderbilt University poll released earlier this month, 69 percent of independent voters viewed Bredesen favorably, to 44 percent for Blackburn. And while just 23 percent of Democrats surveyed had a favorable impression of Blackburn, Bredesen’s favorability rating among GOP voters was more than twice as high, at 52 percent.

“There’s a dramatic overestimation of how conservative the state is,” said Josh Clinton, a Vanderbilt Political Science Professor who co-directed the poll with John Geer. “There are problems in the nation and the state, and people want problem-solvers and solutions, not bomb-throwers and partisan rhetoric.”

Despite Tennessee‘s reputation for being staunchly conservative, a Vanderbilt University poll suggests that the state is split evenly between conservatives (48 percent) and those who identify as moderates (31 percent) or liberals (17 percent). The poll also indicates the state’s attitude towards bipartisanship: 76 percent of voters say they want their representatives to reach across the aisle, even if it means compromising on their own ideology.

The Associated Press sets up the rally with a look at what Trump has been doing for GOP candidates around the country.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump raised the prospect of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe affecting the November elections and blamed Democrats for “Collusion.” On Twitter, he said the “13 Angry Democrats” on Mueller’s team “will be MEDDLING with the mid-term elections, especially now that Republicans (stay tough!) are taking the lead in Polls.” Mueller is a Republican.

Tennessee has a history of electing centrist senators and the race could be complicated by Corker’s up-and-down relationship with Trump. Corker once said Trump had turned the White House into an “adult day care center” and the president tweeted that Corker “couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee.”

Yet Corker was in the Oval Office on Saturday, receiving praise from the president for his help in securing the release of a man imprisoned in Venezuela. The breakthrough happened after Corker held a surprise meeting in Caracas with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

In his final year in the Senate, Corker has called Bredesen a friend and said he won’t actively campaign against him.

Trump, meanwhile, offered an early endorsement of Blackburn in April, calling her on Twitter “a wonderful woman who has always been there when we have needed her. Great on the Military, Border Security and Crime.”

The Tennessean, meanwhile, has a setup story on Trump making his third trip to Nashville since becoming president that includes this comment from Blackburn:

“I think what you’re going to see out of Tuesday night is a lot of excitement from Tennesseans who are so pleased with the agenda that President Trump has pushed forward,” Blackburn said Friday in a telephone interview.

…Blackburn said Tuesday’s rally came together after the president offered her support and selected a date. “We said we would be thrilled,” she said.

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