Thousands of people are expected to pack the Show Me Center in southeast Missouri’s Cape Girardeau tonight, where President Donald Trump (R) will campaign for GOP Senate nominee Josh Hawley.
Hawley is challenging U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in a hotly-contested race that some analysts believe will determine which party controls the Senate in January.
The Trump campaign says conservative talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Fox News’ Sean Hannity will make “special guest appearances” at the event.
Sean Hannity tweeted Monday that he will do his live show from Cape Girardeau and will interview the president, and will not be on-stage.
U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, notes President Trump carried his sprawling district by 56 points in 2016.
“This is the president’s very last political event before the election,” Smith says. “It’s 9 o’clock Monday night. It’s going to be an incredible experience.”
Smith represents 30 counties in southeast and south-central Missouri.
Southeast Missouri State University communications director Ann Hayes tells Missourinet they expect about 7,500 people in the Show Me Center. She also notes they will have an overflow standing area in the adjacent Student Recreation Center.
Traffic is very heavy across the city. Cape Girardeau Police say two additional overflow parking sites have been added: one at Sears Grand and the other at Arena Park.
Cape Girardeau Police say Robinson Transport is providing school buses for shuttle services to and from the Show Me Center.
“The president is just going to be himself. That’s what so great about these rallies is that it’s just the president uncut and just natural,” says Smith.
Senator McCaskill has said that Hawley’s embrace of President Trump is a double-edged sword that does not play well in places such as St. Louis.
Smith tells Missourinet the president is expected to discuss the economy, regulations and taxes. He says the 2017 “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” has created about 1.5 million new jobs.
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, has said the bill provides tax cuts to billionaires and millionaires, and not enough for working families.
President Trump was scheduled to visit Cape Girardeau in September, but the visit was canceled because of Hurricane Florence.
The president’s visit 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. There was only one GOP state representative at that time.
In 2018, the only Democrat from southeast Missouri in the Legislature is State Rep. Ben Harris, D-Hillsboro, and he’s term-limited.
President Trump is just the fourth president to visit Cape Girardeau, according to Congressman Smith. It’s the first presidential visit in 22 years. President Bill Clinton (D) spoke at Capaha Park in 1996.
President Ronald Reagan (R) spoke at the Show Me Center in 1988, and President William Howard Taft arrived by steamboat and spoke there in 1909.
The Show Me Center, which opened in 1987, also hosts basketball games, concerts, rodeos and conventions.
Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, which was recorded on November 2, 2018:
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