Donald Trump returns to Wisconsin tonight with rally in Mosinee

MOSINEE – President Donald Trump will sweep into central Wisconsin at 8 tonight as part of his plan to appear repeatedly in a state he narrowly won four years ago. 

Trump was last in Wisconsin two weeks ago, when he visited Kenosha after a police shooting, looting and the killing of two protesters.

President Donald Trump participates in a roundtable on Wisconsin Community Safety at Mary D. Bradford High School in Kenosha on Sept. 1, 2020.

Two weeks before that, he was in Oshkosh, and his vice president, Mike Pence, recently made two stops in Wisconsin in eight days and is returning next week. And the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., spoke at a hotel in nearby Rothschild on Tuesday.

Now, Trump is holding a rally at an airport hangar near Wausau, the same place he visited two years ago as he tried to boost the U.S. Senate campaign of Leah Vukmir and the reelection bid of then-Gov. Scott Walker. Walker and Vukmir lost two weeks later.

The 7th Congressional District in central and northern Wisconsin, which includes Mosinee and Rothschild, is a stronghold for the president after he won the heavily Republican district by 20 points in 2016 in his appeal to rural voters.

Whether his all-in approach in Wisconsin will work this time is unclear. A poll released Wednesday by the Washington Post and ABC News found Democrat Joe Biden leading Trump 52% to 46% among likely Wisconsin voters. The results were within the poll’s margin of error, as was a survey last week by Marquette University Law School that found Biden leading Trump 47% to 43%. 

Trump for a time backed away from his signature rallies because of the coronavirus pandemic but has embraced them anew as he pursues his reelection bid. In addition to his Wisconsin stop Thursday, Trump is planning on holding rallies Friday in Bemidji, Minnesota, and Saturday in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Trump on Sunday held an indoor rally in suburban Las Vegas, where many of the attendees did not wear masks.

In Mosinee, much of the crowd will be outside, but some will be inside the open hangar if the setup is the same as it was two years ago. Wisconsin requires those who are indoors to wear masks. Health officials also recommend people avoid crowds to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

About 90,000 people in Wisconsin have tested positive for coronavirus and cases have spiked recently in the state, particularly on college campuses. Nationally, nearly 200,000 people have died from the illness.

Trump has said he hopes to have a vaccine by the end of the year. But in a new book by Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, Trump said he downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic to avoid causing panic. 

The president has put his focus in recent weeks on looting and arson in Kenosha and elsewhere that erupted over the treatment of Black people by police.

During his visit to Kenosha, Trump toured buildings that had been burned down and talked about the need to clamp down on riots. The unrest emerged after police officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake from behind multiple times, paralyzing him. In Kenosha, Trump praised officers but said some of them sometimes “choke” when they make split-second decisions. 

Two days later, Biden visited Kenosha and Milwaukee, met with Blake’s family and talked to Blake by phone.

Trump has also used his rallies to promote the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the successor to the North America Free Trade Agreement that Trump negotiated. Trump has contended the trade deal is helping farmers get back on their feet.

Dairy farming has been in crisis in Wisconsin in recent years. Farmers have had to contend with low prices and trade wars that have triggered a wave of bankruptcies. The state lost 213 dairy farms in the first half of 2020, which was far fewer than the first six months of 2019. 

Trump has touted the performance of the economy under his leadership prior to the pandemic. He has said he is bringing back manufacturing jobs and touted plans for a massive Foxconn Technology Group plant in Mount Pleasant as the “eighth wonder of the world.”

So far, Foxconn has not created anywhere near the 13,000 jobs it said it would. State officials have said Foxconn needs to renegotiate its agreement with the state to qualify for subsidies. In all, Foxconn is in line to receive up to $4 billion in state and local assistance.

Contact Patrick Marley at patrick.marley@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.