President Donald Trump is headed to Atlanta on Friday for a one-day trip that includes a roundtable discussion with donors who signed six-figure checks, a fundraiser to boost U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s re-election bid and the rollout of a campaign initiative targeting black voters.
Trump is set to touch down at Dobbins Air Reserve Base around 11 a.m., head to the roundtable and fundraiser in Buckhead for lunch and then go downtown to the Georgia World Congress Center for his midafternoon speech before returning to Dobbins. Expect major traffic snarls throughout the city.
Here’s what to know about the day:
‘Black Voices for Trump’
The headline-grabbing event of the day will be the unveiling of the “Black Voices for Trump” coalition in downtown Atlanta. The president is set to speak after 2 p.m. at the invite-only event, along with Vice President Mike Pence and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.
Trump is expected to highlight recent statistics that show low unemployment rates for black workers as well as an opportunity zone program that Republicans tucked into their 2017 tax-cut legislation to encourage investors to pump money into struggling areas.
But Republicans face a daunting challenge wooing black voters in Georgia, where Stacey Abrams and other Democrats won the African American electorate by a huge margin in 2018. Exit polls showed 94% of black voters backed Abrams over Republican Brian Kemp in last year’s race for governor.
The national data for Trump is grim, too. In 2016, only 8% of black voters cast ballots for Trump and, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center poll, only 8% of black voters identify in some way with the Republican Party.
There’s much buzz about how many black Republicans will show up at Trump’s kickoff at the downtown convention center and which Georgians will be tapped to lead the new group.
He has several prominent African American conservatives to choose from, including Alveda King, a niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; Bruce Levell, a Dunwoody jeweler who was a leader in Trump’s black outreach group in 2016; and Ashley Bell, a White House policy adviser.
Word that Trump will arrive in Atlanta on Air Force One with U.S. Rep. Doug Collins in tow has sparked a frenzy of rumors in Georgia political circles that the Gainesville Republican will be Gov. Brian Kemp’s pick for the U.S. Senate.
Collins remains one of the best-known contenders for the office, but unless there’s a drastic change of plans, Kemp is not expected to announce his appointment for the soon-to-be vacated U.S. Senate seat in time for Trump’s visit.
More than 500 people have submitted resumes since the governor posted his online “help wanted” sign for the seat held by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is stepping down at year’s end for health reasons.
The list is studded with well-known names — including current and former officeholders, business executives, a U.S. ambassador, decorated military veterans and radio commentators. A sitting Democratic state senator even raised his hand for the job.
Still, the president might use the event to drop a hint about whom he favors — increasing the pressure on Kemp. As the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Collins has been one of Trump’s top defenders in Congress.
Trump’s Atlanta events will be filled, too, with other potential Senate appointees who may try to quietly make their case for the position.
Trump is preparing to host a high-dollar fundraiser in Atlanta to help defend Perdue, one of the staunchest critics of the Democratic-led impeachment effort.
The president recently set up a joint fundraising committee with the Republican in time for Friday’s fundraiser at an undisclosed Atlanta locale that will run attendees $2,800 to get in the door and a six-figure check to attend a roundtable.
The money-in-politics tracker OpenSecrets.org reports that Perdue is the first congressional candidate to directly receive support from a Trump-backed fundraising committee.
Perdue is one of Trump’s most ardent defenders in the U.S. Senate and was standing by him at Game 5 of the World Series last week when baseball fans at Nationals Park in Washington greeted the president with boos and chants of “Lock him up!”
Four Democrats running for Perdue’s seat have tried to paint him as a Trump stooge too blinded by his loyalty to do what’s best for his constituents. At a campaign event on Saturday, Democrat Teresa Tomlinson labeled Perdue “the enabler, the influencer, the co-pilot of this president.”
Attendees will have to dig deep into their wallets: A place at the roundtable will cost supporters a $100,000 check. It follows with a luncheon that will run attendees $2,800 for a seat at the table — and at least $35,000 for a photo with the president.
Protests and counterprogramming
The president’s critics plan to make his one-day trip to Atlanta as uncomfortable as possible. One group is planning his “biggest UNwelcome yet” to start at Centennial Park at 2 p.m., just before Trump is set to speak at the Georgia World Congress Center.
Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff is spoofing Trump’s invite to announce his own counterprogramming event: a happy hour Friday evening at Manuel’s Tavern, a hangout for cops, journalists and politicos.
And state Democrats will hold a press conference at 8:30 a.m. at the Georgia Capitol to highlight how Trump’s agenda “hurts Georgia’s black community.”
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