While President Donald Trump was being impeached in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night, he was firing up his base with a MAGA rally in Battle Creek, Michigan — where the president, not surprisingly, angrily railed against Democrats. One of his targets was the late Democrat John Dingell, who represented Michigan in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1955-2015. Trump suggested that Dingell was in hell, and Fox News’ Chad Pergram is warning that doing so could hurt the president politically in 2020.
On Thursday morning, Pergram (who covers Congress for Fox News) went to Twitter and reported, “Multiple sources tell Fox Trump is playing w/fire by taking on the Dingells in the swing state of Michigan.” A source described by Pergram as a “senior GOP congressman” told Fox News that Trump “could lose Michigan alone on this one.”
Multiple sources tell Fox Trump is playing w/fire by taking on the Dingells in the swing state of Michigan and sugg… https://t.co/pFNsj9FxUb— Chad Pergram (@Chad Pergram)1576761124.0
Dingell, as Pergram notes, was the longest-serving congressman in U.S. history. The late Democrat, who was 92 when he died on February 7, 2019, entered the U.S. House of Representatives when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president and stayed for half a century.
In Michigan, there has been quite an outcry over Trump’s anti-Dingell rant. The congressman’s widow, Rep. Debbie Dingell, tweeted, “Mr. President, let’s set politics aside. My husband earned all his accolades after a lifetime of service. I’m preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine, and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder.”
Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan conservative who left the GOP in July and voted to impeach Trump on Wednesday night, tweeted, “Debbie, we are here for you. So many people loved and respected John. Praying for you and your family.” And Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, a Never Trump conservative, told Debbie Dingell on Twitter, “Millions of men and women stand with you against a vile bully.”
Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican who voted against Trump’s impeachment, is calling for Trump to apologize. Upton, now 66, has been in the U.S. House of Representatives since January 1987.
Michigan is among the Rust Belt states that is considered vitally important to Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Although Michigan had been considered a blue state, Trump sent shock waves through the nation when, in 2016, he became the first Republican to win Michigan in a presidential race since the late George H.W. Bush in 1988. But it was a close race: Trump defeated 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by only about 10,704 votes in Michigan.
For decades, John Dingell was a fixture in Michigan politics; he was reelected time and time again. And the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee — whether it turns out to be former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren or someone else — could easily use Trump’s anti-Dingell comment to tar and feather him in Michigan, which has 16 electoral votes.