Trump has yet to travel west as president – The Hill

President Trump traveled west of the Mississippi River just once during his first 200 days in office and has yet to cross the Rocky Mountains.

In 52 domestic trips, Trump has traveled to 17 states.

Nearly half of those trips have been to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate; to Trump National Golf Club in northern Virginia; or to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., where he is currently on vacation.

Eight trips have been for political rallies in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia — all states he won in November.

His single trip west of the Mississippi River was to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for a rally with 6,000 supporters.

Trump has only traveled to six states he did not win in November. In all of those instances, his events were either private, ceremonial, or to address highly supportive crowds.

Early in his administration, Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to witness the return of a serviceman killed in Yemen.

He addressed an adoring crowd in Maryland, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and he’s visited the USS Gerald R. Ford in Norfolk, Va., twice.

Trump gave the commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. And he has visited New York twice, once to host Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the USS Intrepid and once to address a convention of police officers.

Trump administration officials say it should be no surprise that the president has spent most of his time in red states: After all, he won more states than he lost in November. And many of his trips have been to states he only narrowly won, like Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“These are purple, even light blue states, as opposed to red ones,” said a senior White House official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “He won a lot of states that Republicans hadn’t won in a long time.”

While Trump’s early travel favors states he won in November, he has traveled to some areas within those states he lost: In Michigan, he traveled to Washtenaw County, home of Ann Arbor, which went heavily for Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonClintons attend private screening of ‘Wonder Woman’ Rosenstein: Trump did not direct feds to investigate Clinton GOP senator: I wish Republicans had stood up to birtherism MORE last year. In Ohio, he visited Youngstown and Cincinnati, two cities he lost. In Florida, he has held events in Orange County and Miami-Dade County, two places Clinton won.

Still, presidential historians say Trump’s trips illustrate a president more interested in maintaining his base of political support, rather than reaching beyond his coalition to advance a legislative agenda.

“The most important asset any administration has is the president’s time — how you use it, how you deploy him,” said Chris Whipple, author of “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency.” “Time is everything with the president, and in White Houses that know what they’re doing, presidential trips are always built around a priority, a legislative priority or a presidential objective. He’s deployed to try to get his priorities accomplished.

“Trump has no idea that governing is not the same as campaigning. Every trip is a rally,” Whipple said. “It’s the perpetual campaign. This is not about governing, it’s about whipping up his base. All of his travel seems designed to either play golf or whip up the base.”

 The senior White House official said the administration is planning new trips west, though he declined to offer details of any trips in the works.

Trump’s early travel stands in marked contrast to his two predecessors, George W. Bush and Barack ObamaBarack ObamaDemocrats introduce another ‘false hope’ act to immigrants Illinois makes ‘Barack Obama Day’ a state holiday GOP senator: I wish Republicans had stood up to birtherism MORE, who spent their early months in office in red and blue states alike, advocating for their agendas at town hall-style meetings and roundtable events with stakeholder groups.

Bush visited 33 states in his first 200 days in office, according to an analysis of records maintained by the American Presidency Project at the University of California-Santa Barbara. Obama visited 18 states over the same period.

Bush spent his early months advocating a massive education overhaul that became No Child Left Behind, and a tax cut plan. He held education-focused evens in Ohio, Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas and New Jersey. He pitched an energy reform proposal in Minnesota, Iowa and Pennsylvania.

He also addressed several minority audiences, including the Urban League, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Obama’s early weeks were spent pitching the massive economic stimulus bill in Florida, Indiana and Virginia. He signed the bill at a public event in Denver, Colo. Later, Obama held town hall meetings to advance his health care proposal in Wisconsin, Montana, Virginia and New Hampshire.

Bush traveled west of the Mississippi River 15 times in his first months on the job. Obama went west eight times over the same period. Both Bush and Obama stopped in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Montana during their early months

At a time when the media did not obsessively cover every word out of the White House, those early trips helped both Bush and Obama advance their initial priorities.

“Prior to Trump, presidential events didn’t always make the news. So we wanted to cut through whatever the sort of scandal of the day or attack of the day was,” said Christina Reynolds, who directed media affairs during the first years of the Obama administration. “It’s telling a more interesting story. It’s giving the press something a little different to cover.”

Steve Atkiss, who served as deputy director of advance under President Bush, said the White House planned events in conservative states with Democratic senators to apply political pressure. Senators would be invited on Air Force One, to build a relationship with Bush, and then on stage at huge rallies where supportive crowds cheered the president’s plans.

Atkiss recalled a March 26, 2001 event in Billings, Mont., where Bush touted his tax cut plans in front of thousands of supporters — and in front of Sen. Max BaucusMax BaucusHealthcare profiles in courage and cowardice OPINION | On Trump-Russia probe, don’t underestimate Sen. Chuck Grassley Lawmakers: Leave advertising tax break alone MORE (D), a critical swing vote.

“That senator was sitting on stage looking at his constituents,” Atkiss said. “In that case, [Bush] was using it to close the deal on the Hill.”

Bush held other events in Louisiana and Arkansas, both states he had won represented by Democratic senators, and in Wisconsin, which he had narrowly lost in the 2000 election. Baucus and Sens. John Breaux (D-La.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) were among the 12 Democrats who supported the tax cut plan.

Trump has not held the same sorts of agenda-focused events, whether to advance the Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, to overhaul the tax code or to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

“We do our best to make data-driven decisions,” the White House official said. “This is a fairly sophisticated operation that makes decisions not based on the way the wind is blowing on a specific day.”

Bush and Obama both traveled to more foreign countries than Trump has, as well. Bush made stops in ten countries, from Mexico and Canada to Slovenia, the United Kingdom and Kosovo. Obama visited 13 foreign nations, including Mexico, Ghana, Iraq and the Czech Republic. 

Trump has visited eight foreign nations. He has yet to visit either Mexico or Canada as president. His first trip took him on a whirlwind tour of Saudi Arabia, Israel and several European nations. He has since visited Poland, Germany and France.

All three presidents visited just one country in common — Italy — during their first months on the job.

And all three presidents made time to raise money for members of their own party during their early days in office. Bush attended fundraisers for Sens. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.) and Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) SessionsHow the Portman-McCaskill proposal on sex trafficking could harm online businesses Rosenstein: Trump did not direct feds to investigate Clinton Democrats introduce another ‘false hope’ act to immigrants MORE (R-Ala.). Obama raised money for Sen. Harry ReidHarry ReidScrap the Senate’s 30-hour per nominee debate rule to clear backlog of Trump nominees GOP senators pitch rules change amid nominations backlog League of Conservation Voters endorses Dem in Heller race MORE (D-Nev.) and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D). And Trump has raised money for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).

 

Trump has yet to travel west as president – The Hill