UPDATE: President Donald Trump’s campaign has announced that Hurricane Florence has led to the cancellation of Thursday’s planned trip to southeast Missouri’s Cape Girardeau. A statement from Trump for President Inc. Chief Operating Officer Michael Glassner reads: “Regrettably, we must cancel the planned Make America Great Again rally in Cape Girardeau, Missouri this Thursday. With Hurricane Florence on its way, we determined that this is the safest decision.”


A southeast Missouri congressman says President Donald Trump (R) is expected to focus on the economy and Missouri’s U.S. Senate race during his visit to Cape Girardeau on Thursday.

The Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau (photo courtesy of Southeast Missouri State University)

President Trump is scheduled to speak Thursday evening at 7 at the Show Me Center.

U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, describes it as one of the biggest arenas in southeast Missouri.

“I told the president, I was like you come to southeast Missouri, we will fill the arena and will make you very proud,” Smith says.

Southeast Missouri State University communications director Ann Hayes tells Missourinet the Show Me Center can accommodate about 7,300 people.

Smith, who represents 30 counties in southeast and southern Missouri, will be flying on Air Force One Thursday with President Trump. Air Force One will be landing at Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.

The president is expected to urge Missourians to defeat U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), who is seeking her third term in Washington.

President Trump will campaign for GOP Senate nominee Josh Hawley, who’s currently Missouri’s Attorney General. Congressman Smith tells Missourinet he also supports Hawley.

“I need another partner up here (in Washington) that helps back the president,” says Smith. “(Judge Neil) Gorsuch was a great appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was unfortunate that (Senator) Claire McCaskill voted against him.”

Missourinet has reached out twice to Senator McCaskill’s campaign about Congressman Smith’s comments, and they have not responded yet.

Smith says President Trump is also expected to discuss the economy on Thursday. He says the 2017 “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” has created about 1.5 million new jobs. Smith is an original author of the bill.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, has said the bill provides tax breaks to billionaires and millionaires, and not enough for working families.

The president’s visit Thursday to Cape Girardeau highlights how southeast Missouri has changed from blue to red in the last 35 to 40 years. When Republican Bill Emerson was elected to Congress in 1980, all of the state senators in southeast Missouri were Democrats, and there was only one GOP state representative.

Smith notes that in 2018, State Rep. Ben Harris, D-Hillsboro, is the only Democrat from southeast Missouri in the Legislature.

“You know when I first got elected a couple of years ago (2013) to Congress, we had six Democratic state reps and it has just gradually went that way,” Smith says.

He says “the Democratic Party left the people of southeast Missouri.”

Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber, who served eight years in the Missouri House representing Columbia, made recruiting Democratic candidates in rural Missouri, including southeast Missouri, a priority for 2018.

As for Smith, he describes southeast Missouri as “Trump Country”, and predicts the Show Me Center will be packed on Thursday.

This will be the fourth presidential visit to Cape Girardeau, and the first since Democrat Bill Clinton spoke at Capaha Park in 1996. President William Howard Taft spoke in Cape Girardeau in October 1909. Smith’s office tells Missourinet Taft arrived by steamboat.

Press accounts in Cape Girardeau say President Taft arrived with his Vice President James Sherman, 177 members of Congress and several governors who were traveling down the Mississippi River to discuss the effort to develop the river’s shipping channel.

President Ronald Reagan spoke at the Show Me Center in 1988.

Many others have visited the town, including former President Jimmy Carter, after he left office.

Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and Missouri Congressman Jason Smith, which was recorded on September 6, 2018:

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