Trump counters Dem debate with Wisconsin rally as Senate readies impeachment trial
Trump's campaign rally takes place in a state crucial to his 2016 win.
President Donald Trump boasted about killing Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani, and attacked his new favorite target, Sen. Bernie Sanders, at a campaign rally in Wisconsin Tuesday night as Democrats debated in Iowa and meanwhile, back in Washington, the Senate prepared for his upcoming impeachment trial.
Trump touted the military’s "flawless" airstrike that killed Soleimani -- "the no. 1 terrorist in the world," Trump added -- as a packed crowd at the Milwaukee Panther Arena cheers.
The president added that Soleimani was "actively planning new attacks," an argument his administration has used to justify the killing. However, Democrats have raised concerns regrading the intelligence that prompted the strike and questioned how imminent the threat was.
After days in which Trump's campaign blasted Sanders, the president went after the Vermont senator while also looking to elevate him.
"Bernie is surging," Trump added. "Bernie and the radical left cannot protect your family and they cannot protect our country, nor do they want to, I think."
Trump also weighed in on recent conflict between Sanders and fellow progressive candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, saying he didn't believe Sanders would say that a woman couldn't win the presidency.
"I don't believe that he said this," Trump added. "I don't know him. I don't particularly like him. He’s a nasty guy, but I don't believe he said it. It’s not his deal."
The president's second election-year rally is in a state crucial to his 2016 win -- a state again likely to play a key role in deciding the presidential election.
Ahead of the rally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he expects the Senate trial to begin in earnest next Tuesday, when the Senate will consider the resolution that establishes guidelines for the trial.
When asked why he wasn't pushing to dismiss the trial, which the president has suggested, the Republican leader told ABC News' senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce that "there is little or no sentiment in the Republican conference for a motion to dismiss."
"Our members feel we have an obligation to listen to the arguments," McConnell said. "And we've laid out in this resolution an opportunity for everybody to sit there, remember senators can't say anything, so they'll have to sit there and listen, to listen carefully to the arguments by both the prosecution and the defense, to follow that up with written questions, submitted through the Chief Justice. And that means listening to the case, not dismissing it."
Tuesday's rally is also the president's most overt attempt at counter programming to the Democratic debates yet, with both political events taking place on the same night. Six candidates will appear on the debate stage Tuesday night, including Sanders and Warren, who will take the stage for the first time amid a budding clash.
This is the last Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses.
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