US President Donald Trump has implored Republicans to help preserve “fragile” GOP victories that could be erased by Democrats, as he closes out a midterm campaign defined by his racially-charged rhetoric, hard-line immigration moves and scattershot policy proposals.
One day before polls closed, Trump arrived in perennial battleground Ohio with further stops planned in Indiana and Missouri to boost Republican turnout in elections that could determine the path of his presidency.
He laid out the stakes on Monday in a call organised by his re-election campaign.
“It’s all fragile. Everything I told you about, it can be undone and changed by the Democrats if they get in,” Trump said.
“You see how they’ve behaved. You see what’s happening with them. They’ve really become radicalised.”
Throughout the fall, Trump has cast an overwhelming shadow over the midterm elections, which will serve as a testing ground for his nationalist appeals.
In the final days, Trump has accelerated his harsh rhetoric on illegal immigration and lobbed apocalyptic attacks on Democrats. At the same time, he has sought to distance himself from any potential blame if Republicans lose control of the House.
Whatever the outcome, Trump made clear he knew he was on the line.
“Even though I’m not on the ballot, in a certain way I am on the ballot,” Trump said.
Tomorrow, whether we consider it or not, the press is very much considering it a referendum on me and us as a movement.”
Trump also rejected criticism from some Republicans that his immigration rhetoric was turning off the moderate voters they need to win the House.
Republicans are increasingly bullish that they will retain control of the Senate, but they face Democratic headwinds in the House.
Trump has had a busy campaign schedule in the final stretch of the race, with 11 rallies over six days.
At his rallies and on Twitter, Trump’s closing argument has largely focused on fear – warning, without evidence, that a Democratic takeover would throw the country into chaos, spurring an influx of illegal immigration and a wave of crime.
Speaking to a rally crowd in Georgia over the weekend, Trump made ominous references to the “Antifa” far-left-leaning militant groups and a migrant caravan moving slowly toward the US-Mexico border that he has called an “invasion.”
With the election approaching, Trump seized on the caravans of Central American migrants to reinforce an immigration message that recalls the racially charged immigration talk of his 2016 campaign.
He also used the confirmation battle for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to stir up his most loyal supporters.