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Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway make surprise appearances at Indiana Trump rally on Monday
By Michael Candelori / Shutterstock.com
President Donald Trump surprised a crowd of 13,000 at one of his final campaign rallies ahead of midterms in Indiana on Monday when he invited White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway to take the stage.
Speaking in front of an energetic crowd in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Sanders quipped that she and Conway “weren’t used to friendly crowds” as a sea of Trump supporters cheered.
That energy turned into victory on Tuesday when Republicans in Indiana flipped the Senate seat held by Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly, closing off the Democrats’ path to the upper chamber.
Two great women
President Trump finished up a tireless campaign blitz on Monday to help Republicans win competitive Senate races with three rallies in three states — Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri — in one day. Trump was in the middle of stumping for Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun at the second rally, in Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, when he called the surprise guests on stage.
“I have two other great women with me. You’ve never heard of them,” Trump said. “They’re very shy — Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.”
Sanders doesn’t typically appear at campaign rallies, so her appearance was especially surprising. She took the podium and apologized for being bashful, joking that she wasn’t used to the positive reception.
“You’ll have to forgive Kellyanne and I. We’re a little speechless because we’re not used to friendly crowds,” Sanders, who is known for sparring with reporters in White House press briefings, said. She went on to praise Trump for the job he is doing, and called her work in the White House “one of the greatest honors of [her] lifetime.”
Sarah Sanders and Kellyanne Conway join Pres. Trump at campaign rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 5, 2018
Conway: Joe Donnelly must go
Sanders hugged Conway before giving up the podium to her colleague, who urged voters to go out and vote for Mike Braun. Both Sanders and Conway have faced scrutiny for alleged violations of the Hatch Act, which forbids government employees from advocating political candidates on the job. But Conway noted that she was there in a “personal capacity.”
“I love me some Hoosiers,” she said. “Let me just say in my personal capacity, because this election is very personal to me, Joe must go. Get him out!”
After chants of “Joe must go” from the audience, Conway added: “If you think your vote doesn’t count, if you think it doesn’t matter to have a small majority in the U.S. Senate, you did not live through the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.”
“Kavanaugh effect” sweeps Senate
The so-called “Kavanaugh effect” rewarded Republicans on Tuesday when the GOP swept competitive Senate races across the country to hold a majority in the upper chamber. Republicans won races in all three states that Trump rallied in on Monday: Braun beat Donnelly, Missouri Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill lost her Senate race to Josh Hawley, and Republicans won the governor’s mansion in Ohio.
Democratic incumbents from red states who voted against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation in October were crushed. Democrat Heidi Heitkamp was wiped out in her Senate race in North Dakota, which was widely expected after her “no” vote in the deep red state.
Elsewhere, incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida lost in a tight race to former Gov. Rick Scott. The only Democratic incumbent who won a competitive Senate race in a red state, Joe Manchin (D-WV), voted in favor of Kavanaugh.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Republican Matt Rosendale was projected to overcome incumbent Jon Tester in Montana’s Senate race.
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