Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich launched into a common, heavy critique of Hillary Clinton in suburban Cincinnati Wednesday night, previewing an as yet unannounced role for the former House speaker in a Trump administration.
“In one form or another, Newt Gingrich will be part of our government,” Trump said, teasing the crowd and overflow room totalling about 5,300.
Minutes later, he added, “If it’s Newt, nobody’s going to beat us in a debate, that’s for sure.”
Trump and Gingrich, a Republican whose positions on issues like free trade have recently adjusted to accommodate the presumptive nominee’s more protectionist stance, found a similar target in Clinton, who earlier in the day ridiculed Trump’s business deals.
“The only good thing she’s done is get out of trouble when anybody else would be in jail,” Trump bellowed to sustained applause at the Sharonville Convention Center.
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Trump’s visit to Cincinnati is his second to Ohio in as many weeks, after he stopped in eastern Ohio last week for a rally. Clinton has made four trips — including last week’s campaign stop in Cincinnati with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. — since May.
Clinton takes jabs at Trump in Atlantic City
Standing beneath the faded outlines of the Trump Plaza sign that for years threw red light on Atlantic City’s boardwalk, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday attacked Trump as a con man who fleeced the working class and declared him “temperamentally unfit” for the presidency.
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“It’s the same scam all over again,” Clinton told a crowd on the boardwalk, adding, “Remember what he promised: ‘I’m going to do for the country what I did for my business.’ Well, we should believe him — and make sure he never has the chance to bankrupt America the way he bankrupted his businesses.”
She warned that electing Trump to the White House would result in the same type of fate as all three of his former casinos here.
Like Clinton bringing along Warren, Trump chose southwest Ohio to launch a test balloon with a potential vice presidential candidate, an Ohio political scientist said.
“Ohio is a good proving ground for potential vice presidential picks,” said Mark C. Smith, director at the Center for Political Studies at Cedarville University. He called Gingrich’s visit “very interesting.”
The visit with Gingrich comes as other potential picks have withdrawn their names from consideration. On Wednesday, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., withdrew his name amid reports that first-term Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, would also remove her name.
Winning over Ohio Republicans
Trump and Gingrich kicked off the event by offering olive branches to Ohio Republicans who, especially among moderates, have kept an arm’s length from the presumptive nominee.
“Rob Portman has been really good to me and I appreciate it,” Trump said about Ohio’s incumbent U.S. senator, echoing Gingrich’s comments moments before. “And he’s running against Ted Strickland who did not do a good job for Ohio.”
Later, Trump added about the Ohio Republican Party chairman, “Matt Borges, good guy. Matt, you better win Ohio for me!” Earlier in the week, Borges told he New York Times he believed many of Trump’s problems in Ohio are “on the campaign,” and said Ohio’s record March primary turnout was due, in part, to the stop-Trump movement.
Trump has ground to make up in Ohio, where many members of the establishment still rue his upheaval of Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign, which gained little traction outside the state.
Gingrich gave Kasich a nudge: “Your governor’s a good friend of mine, but it’s about time he got on the Trump bandwagon.”
Before the event, this newspaper reached out to several members of the Butler County GOP about the fundraiser — where admission cost $2,700 a person, and a sit-down round-table discussion, with photo, cost $25,000 — in Cincinnati, but the few that responded said they’re not planning to attend either because of the cost or scheduling.
Yet other Republicans, including Trump surrogate and Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones, slammed Clinton on an afternoon following a day of pointed jabs from the Democratic nominee about her rival Trump’s business dealings.
“We need laws that no one is above reproach of these laws, no matter if your husband was president of the United States or not,” Jones told the crowd before Trump came out.
Nearly simultaneously, the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Clinton would not, in fact, face charges in the email scandal. This, a day after FBI Director James Comey said “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges against the former State Department secretary.
Trump’s supporters clearly disagreed with the outcome of the FBI investigation. Stephen Miller, a top policy adviser for Trump, said Clinton’s email controversy “goes to the heart of the question of whether we’re a nation of laws.”
“She did this with premeditation and with no concern at all about how it would affect your lives or the safety of your country,” Miller said. “What does that say about her character?”
“Criminal!” shouted one man in the crowd.
Staff Writers Michael Pitman, Natalie Jovonovich, Greg Lynch, Stephanie Patino-Garfias and the McClatchy News Service contributed reporting.