Was Mike Pence’s Georgia detour a Hillary Clinton trap?

Republican Vice Presidential nominee and Indiana Governor Mike Pence and his wife Karen make a campaign stop in Marietta. Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com

Republican Vice Presidential nominee and Indiana Governor Mike Pence and his wife Karen make a campaign stop in Marietta. Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com

Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence spent the past two days crisscrossing Georgia to shore up support for Donald Trump as reports piled up about tightening Peach State polls and Democrat Hillary Clinton’s decision to pump in more money and staff into her campaign here.

Now comes a report from Politico that Trump’s campaign may have fallen into a ruse that led him to spend crucial time in a reliably red state that hasn’t voted for a Democrat since Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory.

From Politico:

After weeks of Brooklyn telegraphing a competitive race in traditionally red states and making public moves that look like initial investments — boosting staff, holding fundraisers and promising more investments — Trump is now campaigning in Arizona, which has voted Republican in 15 of the past 16 elections, while his running mate goes to Georgia, a state that’s gone red in seven of the past eight cycles. …

In private, members of Clinton’s team draw a direct line between their activity in those states and Trump’s worries there. In public, Democrats are starting to cheer the success.

“This would be the equivalent of Hillary having to campaign in Massachusetts or having to campaign in California, except [to raise] money,” said Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, a veteran of Bill Clinton’s campaign and White House teams who remains close to the family’s operation. “Either he has fallen for it hook, line and sinker, or there are substantive concerns given his changes in some of the margins within specific cohorts of voters. Either way, it’s good news.”

Trump supporters are quick to point out Pence did more than stump for votes during his two-day stay here. He headlined a Monday evening fundraiser in Buckhead that organizers expected to raise more than $700,000 for the campaign, courted evangelical leaders and appeared on Herman Cain’s nationally-syndicated radio program.

And some Republicans say they are engaging in their own game of chicken with Clinton’s campaign.

“I want them to continue to think that so they continue spending money in Georgia so they don’t go to places like North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio,” former Gov. Sonny Perdue said in an interview of Clinton’s rumblings about competing in the Peach State. “Please spend all the money you can here in Georgia. We’ll be solidly red in November.”

Adds Brandon Phillips, Trump’s Georgia director:

More: Georgia Republicans worry Trump will soften immigration stance

More: Pence tours Georgia, pushing for unity behind Trump’s candidacy

More: Race appears tight in Georgia, so where are presidential candidates?


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