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Trump plans Kentucky visit as Barr faces tough reelection

Donald Trump

By Daniel Desrochers | Lexington Herald-Leader

President Donald Trump is coming to Kentucky.

The White House announced Tuesday that Trump would visit Kentucky sometime in the next six weeks, making an appearance in the state as U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, faces a tough reelection campaign.

The White House offered few details about where Trump will campaign and when. Aides said the president wants to keep his schedule flexible as they rattled off a list of states where he plans to campaign this fall.

“Congressman Barr would welcome President Trump to Kentucky,” said Jodi Whitaker, Barr’s spokeswoman.

Trump won Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District by more than 15 points in 2016, but Democratic congressional candidate Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot, has created excitement in the district as Democrats look to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018.

Democrat Amy McGrath and Republican Andy Barr. | Courtesy Lexington Herald-Leader

“I want to welcome President Trump on his upcoming trip to our magnificent district, as he tries to save Congressman Barr’s unpopular re-election campaign,” McGrath said in a statement. “We hope he comes with a positive message, as Central Kentucky has been GREAT for a very long time.”

Republicans across the country have hoped to use Trump’s enthusiastic base to help drive up Republican turnout, but with mixed success.

In a special election in Ohio this month, Trump took credit for a narrow victory by Republican Troy Balderson, though the race is in the middle of a recount. But in a special election in the suburbs of Pittsburgh in March, Trump’s appearance couldn’t help the Republican candidate defeat U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, a young Democratic veteran.

Trump’s visit will be his second to Kentucky since he was elected. Vice President Mike Pence has made two trips to the 6th Congressional District, one in Lexington and another in Versailles.

Trump’s policies on immigration and his trade tariffs have caused headaches for Barr in a competitive race, but the three-term congressman has been quick to tout the president on the campaign trail. When Barr opened his Lexington campaign office this summer, he went through a list of policies supported by the president and praised his action in North Korea.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are making America safer, stronger and more secure,” Barr said.

On the rare occasion when Barr has pushed against Trump’s policies, such as trade tariffs that impacted Kentucky’s bourbon industry, Barr has made a point to praise Trump’s underlying intentions.

“It’s kind of one of these things we appreciate because the administration is trying to get reciprocal trade,” Barr said about the tariffs. “At the same time, I’ve got to fight for my bourbon industry and I’m doing it.”

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