While her father-in-law’s residence in Washington, D.C. dealt with the effects of a Supreme Court nominee dogged by sexual assault claims and the looming Russia investigation, Lara Trump campaigned in Bowling Green for the Republican party.
In the key electoral swing state of Ohio, Trump, alongside Representative Bob Latta and top Republican officials, touted the president's accomplishments and the importance of building and maintaining a Republican-controlled state and federal government.
“We have a very important midterm election coming up,” Trump said. “This is as important, if not more important, than voting Donald Trump into office. If you are happy with what you have seen happen in the year and a half that Donald Trump has been in office, the most important thing you can do is to vote and make sure that we have Trump-supporting Republicans going into Congress.”
She stopped at the CMC Group last week, a marketing firm in Wood County as part of her larger role as President Trump’s 2020 re-election senior adviser. With the advantage of a familiar name — “Trump” after all is pasted on buildings across the globe — the first family is actively campaigning when President Trump himself cannot make it to his rallies to defend his executive record.
“She’s [playing] a critical role for the Trump campaign because her last name is a draw,” said CNBC Political Finance Reporter Brian Schwartz in a phone call with the Independent Collegian.
He pointed to Trump’s recent trip to California with her husband, Eric, and 2020 Campaign Chairman Brad Parscale.
“In one day, [they] raised about two million dollars for the 2018 midterms,” Schwartz said.
There is precedent in using a surname to draw in campaign dollars.
Then candidate Trump’s 2016 opponent used the same tactic.
“Whether [Hillary Clinton] was running for President or whether Bill was running for reelect, the families did play a role,” Schwartz said. “It’s all kind of part and parcel with the power the people gain from Washington. The families also gain similar power.”
Jon Jakubowski, chairman of the Wood County Republican party, hosted Trump’s appearance.
A day after the event, he recounted it as “a very successful visit.”
“A lot of energy was created. People thought she was extremely well spoken and very charismatic.”
About 50 attendees paid $50 to hear Trump speak for around 12 minutes, and a smaller group paid 20 times the admission fee to sit at a roundtable with the first daughter-in-law.
The noise emanating from the White House barely registered in the walls of the industrial building tucked away in the typical midwestern town surrounded by sprawling farmland and highways.
Speaking with reporters, Trump dismissed some of the national headlines, including a New York Times anonymous op-ed and a book written by famed journalist Bob Woodward outlining a cohort within the White House working to tame the President.
“People see exactly what a lot of this stuff is, and it’s noise and it’s distraction,” Trump said.
Instead she said the public is looking at the money in it’s pockets and America’s standing in the world.
“Economically, we’re back on the right track... You look at what this president is doing from a worldwide perspective,” she said. “The fact that we might have a denuclearized Korean peninsula. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem in Israel after many, many people promised it. Those are things that people care about.”
Her statements during and after her campaign speech reflected a loyalty toward her father-in-law, a quality President Trump admires and has historically demanded.
“What matters inside this clan is pleasing the President, avoiding his wrath and avoiding the swirl of scandal,” wrote Michael D’Antonio, a Trump family biographer, in an email to the Independent Collegian.
“Lara seems to fit well into the Trump family...If she genuinely defends Trump's tweets and supports policies like separating asylum-seeking parents and children and backing out of the Paris Climate Accord, then she'll hold up well.”
Staying in her father-in-law’s good graces will require stamina. The midterms are a little over a month away, and the next presidential election isn’t for another two years.
“Of course, anyone observing the family must understand the pressure experienced by everyone who bears the name,” D’antonio wrote.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this piece mistakenly identified Bob Latta as Senator Bob Latta. It has since been changed to Representative Bob Latta.