President Trump blasted Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and touted Rep. Kevin Cramer in a Fargo, North Dakota, rally Wednesday night, as he made the case for electing more Republicans to the U.S. Senate. The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Mr. Trump said, highlights the need for those in North Dakota and elsewhere to vote Republican come November.
Cramer is vying to replace Heitkamp, who could be vulnerable in a state Mr. Trump won by 36 points.
"We must elect more Republicans, we have to do that," the president said Wednesday night.
The president has not voiced his top contenders to replace Kennedy since the retirement announcement, but in November the White House released a list of 25 possible names in the case of a vacancy.
"We have to pick a great one," Mr. Trump said Wednesday night. "We have to pick one that's going to be there for 40 years, 45 years."
The president said Heitkamp would simply vote as she is told -- unless, perhaps, political pressure forces her to vote for Mr. Trump's nominee. Heitkamp did vote to support Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch last year.
After the rally, Heitkamp issued a statement saying she has "always been eager to work across the aisle" for North Dakota.
"Anytime the president comes to North Dakota, that's a good thing for our state. While we saw election-year politics today, I'm always willing to work with the president if he's helping North Dakota - and if he's not, I'll speak up," Heitkamp said. "I don't answer to a political party or president, I only answer to North Dakotans who deserve an independent voice in the Senate. That's why I've always been eager to work across the aisle - including with the president - to get results for our state, and today's rally hasn't changed that."
Read updates below from earlier tonight:
"We will make America loving again," Trump says, concluding rally
Mr. Trump concluded his rally with typical lines, such as, "we will make America wealthy again" and "we will make America great again."
But he added an unusual one Wednesday night.
"We will make America loving again," he said. "Loving. Loving."
Trump bashes the "elite," says his supporters are the "super elite"
Mr. Trump bashed "the elite," whom he described as "stone-cold losers."
Mr. Trump said he and his supporters have nicer houses, and bigger brains.
"We're the elite, you're the elite!" the president told the crowd, adding, "We are the super elite."
Space is the "new frontier," Trump says, touting "Space Force"
Mr. Trump brought up one of his new favorite topics -- the "Space Force" he says he has directed the Pentagon to create.
"Because space is the new frontier," Mr. Trump said.
"We're not starting a trade war, but we'll finish it"
Mr. Trump said the U.S. will continue to push a hard line on trade.
"We're not starting a trade war, but we'll finish it," Mr. Trump said.
Trump says Joe Crowley got his "a**" kicked
Mr. Trump said Democrat Joe Crowley, who lost his primary race to a little-known 28-year-old challenger Tuesday night, "got his a** kicked."
Mr. Trump called Crowley a "slovenly man" who lost to a woman with a lot of energy.
Trump touts record on veterans
Mr. Trump talked about how his administration has improved the situation for veterans.
"I wasn't a great student of the vets," Mr. Trump said. But then, Mr. Trump said, he read about the wait list for veterans, and thought of a brilliant policy -- allow any veteran to go to any doctor, with the government paying.
"I said I am so smart. I am the smartest person," Mr. Trump said.
Then he realized that some veteran advocates had been pushing for such a policy change for years, and the idea wasn't his.
Trump praises Justice Kennedy, muses about his successor
Mr. Trump mentioned the announcement of the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. He said he hopes Kennedy's replacement will serve for 40 or 45 years.
"Justice Anthony Kennedy, a very special guy also, just announced a little while ago, his retirement from the United States Supreme Court. Great man. And I'm very honored that he chose to do it during my term in office because he felt confident in me..." the president said.
Kennedy's retirement, Mr. Trump said, is the reason why the Senate needs more Republicans, not Democrats like Heitkamp. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested a confirmation vote, however, would likely take place before November.
"We must elect more Republicans, we have to do that," Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump claimed Heitkamp, who voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, would not likely vote for Kennedy's replacement.
Trump brings up "beauty" Maxine Waters
Mr. Trump blasted Maxine Waters, a Democratic congresswoman who suggested on Twitter that people harass Trump administration officials, after White House press secretary was kicked out of a restaurant over the weekend.
"Maxine, she is a beauty," Mr. Trump said.
"I mean, she practically was telling people the other day to assault. Can you imagine if I said the kind of things that she said?"
Trump blasts Heidi Heitkamp
Mr. Trump blasted Heitkamp for voting against the GOP tax plan, and attempt to repeal Obamacare. The president said North Dakota needs a senator who will vote like the people of North Dakota.
Kevin Cramer takes the stage
The president welcomed Cramer on stage. Cramer praised Mr. Trump, particularly for standing for life.
Mr. Trump also praised Cramer.
"We need Kevin Cramer to replace liberal Democrat Heidi Heitkamp," Mr. Trump said.
Trump gives a shoutout to "My Pillow" man
Mr. Trump gave a shoutout to Mike Lindell, the founder of the pillow brand "MyPillow" whose ads air on Fox News.
Mr. Trump asked if supporters had ever seen him on Fox.
"The 'My Pillow' guy," Mr. Trump said.
Trump takes the stage to cheers and applause
Mr. Trump took the stage at 8:08 p.m. to "God Bless the USA" and cheers from the audience.
Mr. Trump, as he usually does, clapped as he stepped towards the podium. Mr. Trump said the crowd was "packed."
"The only thing more packed is outside, trying to get in. They're having a hard time, can't get in."
Trump to take the stage soon
Mr. Trump is expected to take the stage any moment soon, in an arena packed with supporters.
Supporters with "Make America Great Again" hats waited expectantly for the president to take the stage, facing signs that read "promises made" and "promises kept."
Trump lands in North Dakota
Mr. Trump tweeted that he arrived in North Dakota shortly after 7 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. local time.
Who is Kevin Cramer?
Cramer currently is currently North Dakota's only U.S. representative. You read that right -- North Dakota has more senators than House members. It is one of seven states with just one congressional district.
Cramer, a conservative Republican, has been in Congress since 2013.
He has the support of Mr. Trump in the state the president won by 36 points. Mr. Trump tweeted his support for Cramer earlier Wednesday.
"Heading to North Dakota to fully stand with and endorse Kevin Cramer for Senate," Mr. Trump tweeted. "He is an extraordinary Congressman who will hopefully soon represent this great state as your Senator. He is tough on crime, strong on borders, loves our Military, and our Vets!"