Trump admits Republicans could lose the House at rally

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Nov. 2, 2018, at the Tri-State Airport in Huntington, W.Va. PlayTyler Evert/AP
WATCH Trump admits Republicans could lose House

In an airport hangar high in the hills of Huntington, West Virginia, President Donald Trump on Friday made his closing argument for Republicans running in the midterm elections.

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But in a state he won handily in 2016, and before a crowd more subdued than usual, the president appeared to admit for the first time that Republicans might lose control of the House of Representatives.

"It could happen," Trump said. "And you know what you do? My whole life, you know what I say? 'Don't worry about it, I'll just figure it out.'" Trump said.

The president was stumping for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's Senate bid and Carol Miller's run for the House of Representatives. Both are in close -- and at times nasty -- races against Democrats Richard Ojeda and incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin.

Trump won the Mountain State by an overwhelming percent of the vote in the presidential election -- a fact the president was eager to share with the crowd.

"You know what that's like -- did anyone ever hear of 42 points?" Trump said, reminding the audience of the large margin by which he won against Hillary Clinton.

The Trump mocked political prognostications of a "blue wave" in 2018.

"A blue wave equals a crime wave," Trump said. "A red wave equals jobs and safety."

But he added: "I'm not saying they're not going to squeak by," Trump said.

The president said, while aboard Air Force One, he had watched former President Barack Obama's campaign appearance for Democrats in Florida, but claimed Obama had a "small crowd."

"I was in the plane, I have nothing else to do, I heard him talk about telling the truth," Trump said, "And yet, he said you can keep your doctor if you like," in a reference to Obamacare.

On a day when the president could be talking about the economy, he focused on immigration, Kavanaugh, coal, and health care -- a hot topic in the Mountain State.

"They all say 'speak about the economy, speak about the economy.' Well, we have the greatest economy in the history of our country. But sometimes it's not as exciting to talk about the economy, right? ‘Cause we have a lot of other things to talk about," Trump said.

In a mostly rural, Appalachian state thousands of miles away from the Southern border, Trump got the crowd riled up over immigration.

"Do we let them in?" Trump asked, to which the crowd yelled an answer: "Build the wall!"

The president went on to tell the crowd, without evidence, that the caravans from Central America are bringing in people with criminal records. He appeared to defend his controversial and racially-charged campaign ad posted on Twitter about an illegal immigrant who killed two California law enforcement officers.

"I put it up on Twitter and they gave me a hard time. They said you shouldn't be doing that, that's not nice. And I say all I'm doing is just telling the truth," Trump said.

"Illegal immigration cost American taxpayers more than $100 billion every single year -- more than 20 times the entire state budget of the state of West Virginia," Trump claimed.

Trump did not cite a source for the figure, though it may be based on a study by Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a nonprofit that advocates against immigration and is regularly cited by conservatives. A study by FAIR in September 2017 said the total tax burden caused by the country's illegal immigrant population is $115 billion a year.

Liberal nonprofits, like the Center for American Progress (CAP), show just the opposite, saying limiting immigrants and deporting those here will be a net-loss for the country. A study from CAP in September 2016 reported a $434 billion annual loss in the nation's gross domestic product if unauthorized immigrants were removed from the economy.

The president called out Manchin for his last-minute vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The president said he spoke to Manchin on the phone about his vote days before the confirmation votes and the Manchin said he would think about casting a key vote for Kavanaugh.

"Nobody's smoother than Joe," Trump said. "He's much smoother than Schumer, actually," Trump said.

The president claimed again that Republicans are for keeping pre-existing conditions -- an issue that has become a hot-button campaign issue in West Virginia because Morrissey joined 19 other state attorneys general in a lawsuit to try to end Obamacare and potentially take away protections for pre-existing conditions.

"Republicans will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions," Trump told the crowd.

The claim is dubious because while the American Health Care Act, the failed replacement for Obamacare, would have prevented insurers from limiting access to those with pre-existing conditions, the increasing costs could have unintentionally forced many off their plans anyway, health care experts warned.

"We had Obamacare killed except for one Republican vote," Trump said, in a jab at the late Sen. John McCain.

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