President Trump tore into Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards at a rally Thursday night, two days ahead of the impeachment inquiry hearings.. The president also wasted little time in unleashing attacks against the Democrats and the
"The eyes of history are looking upon the great people of Louisiana," Mr. Trump told thousands of supporters in Bossier City, adding, "I really need you, but you really need you, to send a message to the corrupt Democrats in Washington."
Edwards, the South's only Democratic governor, will face off against Eddie Rispone, a construction magnate and GOP donor making his first run for public office. Rispone, who Mr. Trump described Thursday as a "true Louisiana champion," has called himself an outsider who won't be "politically correct."
Mr. Trump, who won the state of Louisiana in 2016 with 58% of the vote, told voters that Edwards is a "tool of Nancy, a tool of Chuck," and said he wants open borders, high taxes and "radical pro-abortion policies."
In fact, Edwards is socially conservative when it comes to abortion, and was one of many governors who signed a bill that would ban abortions after six weeks.
Mr. Trump invited a number of prominent Louisiana politicians to join him onstage, including Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy. Senator Kennedy railed against the "cultured, cosmopolitan, goat's milk latte-drinkin', avocado toast-eating, insiders elite," and repeated call to action from Mr. Trump's last Louisiana rally: "Unless you're happy with crappy, vote Eddie Rispone for governor." Senator Cassidy warned voters that "this is going to be a close election," and urged them to "get your neighbor, and your neighbor's neighbor" to vote.
"By supporting Eddie, you will deliver a powerful rebuke to the socialists trying to sabotage our democracy and to erase your cherished way of life in Louisiana," Mr. Trump added.
This is Mr. Trump's first rally after House Democrats began public hearings in the impeachment inquiry. On Wednesday, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, testified that one of his aides overheard Mr. Trump on a phone call with U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, asking about "the investigations." That aide was confirmed by CBS News to be David Holmes, who will be testifying behind closed doors before Congress on Friday.
Republicans, including the president, attempted to dismiss the testimony by Taylor and another career diplomat, State Department official George Kent. The president decried the proceedings as a "witch hunt."
At Thursday's rally, the president slammed the inquiry by saying, "We did nothing wrong, and they're doing nothing" and attempted to label Taylor and Kent as "never Trumpers."
"How about when they asked the two never Trumpers, 'uh, what exactly do you think you impeach him for?' And they stood there and went like, 'what?'" Mr. Trump said, drawing laughs from the audience.
"Their schemes are already unraveling," Mr. Trump said. " Their sinister plans will fail. They have already failed as far as I am concerned."
Mr. Trump added that the inquiry has been "very hard on my family" — but claimed congressional Republicans were asking him to keep it going because it was helping them in the polls.
"Based on the poll numbers, the people in this country aren't buying it, because we're going up and they're going down," Mr. Trump said.
— Fin Gomez and Eleanor Watson contributed to this report.