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Trump blasts "sleeping," "swamp person" Joe Donnelly in Indiana, as GOP hopes to scoop up Senate seat

Last Updated May 10, 2018 9:42 PM EDT

With the heated GOP Senate primary over in Indiana, Republicans are launching into general election mode. On Thursday night, President Trump — accompanied by a laudatory Vice President Mike Pence — highlighted his administration's accomplishments, and made the case for more Republicans in the Senate. 

The GOP is hoping to tap into Mr. Trump's popularity in the state — and into Pence's home court advantage — as it looks to scoop up the seat from Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in November. Mike Braun, a businessman and former state representative who cast himself as an outsider in the GOP primaries, will face Donnelly in November, after winning Tuesday's primary. Mr. Trump spent at least as much time hitting Donnelly as praising Braun. Mr. Trump's audience — some of whom had been waiting in line since as early as 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to the local CBS station — was more than happy to boo Donnelly. Mr. Trump cast Braun as "winner" and Donnelly as "sleeping Joe."

"This November, Indiana will face an important choice. You can send a really incredible swamp person back to the Senate, like Joe Donnelly. Or you can send Republicans like Mike Braun to drain the swamp," Mr. Trump said, prompting a "drain the swamp" chant from his supporters.

Thursday night's speech was initially billed as a tax event, but Mr. Trump, as he has in previous tax events, veered off that topic. The president addressed recent news, like the return of the American hostages kept in North Korea

But he also mentioned his election victory, and the campaign leading up to it. Mr. Trump, in mentioning historic low rates of black unemployment, recalled his 2016 comments in Michigan when he told black voters, "What the hell do you have to lose?" in voting for him. Mr. Trump also touted the unemployment rates for women.

"So you have African-Americans, Hispanics, women," Mr. Trump said in discussing the unemployment rates. "Women. Do we love women. Women." 

The president also set his sights on his reelection campaign. 

"Our new slogan for 2020, you know what it is? 'Keep America Great!'" Mr. Trump said.

He also took credit for stores saying "Merry Christmas" again. 

"They weren't saying Merry Christmas. Now they're saying Merry Christmas again," he said.

Pence, who introduced Mr. Trump, mentioned the president repeatedly as he touted his accomplishments. The vice president called it the greatest honor of his life to serve Mr. Trump. 

"He's a man of his word. He's a man of action. And how 'bout all the action this week?" Pence said.

Elkhart, Indiana, is Trump country. Nearly two-thirds of votes in the county, 64 percent, went to Mr. Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016. It also heavily relies on manufacturing -- a sector Mr. Trump often praises, and says the U.S. is bringing back to life.

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.