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Trump Makes Subtle, Unexpected Push for Down-Ballot Republicans

Trump told Florida Republicans he needs a Republican Congress to repeal Obamacare and enact the rest of his 'contract with the American voter.'
IMAGE: Donald Trump in Naples, Fla.
Donald Trump at a rally Sunday in Naples, Fla.Evan Vucci / AP

NAPLES, Fla. — While Hillary Clinton is making an explicit push for Democratic down-ballot candidates, Donald Trump is taking a more subtle approach.

Sunday evening in sunny Florida, Trump repeatedly pushed his supporters to help keep Republicans in control of Congress.

Asking voters to cast their votes for him in 16 days, Trump said, "That includes helping me re-elect Republicans all over the place," adding that it would be "nice if they helped us, too, right? To enact my first 100 days."

At three other points in the speech, Trump slipped in mentions of a Republican House and Senate as essential to enacting his agenda.

Notably unnamed in Trump's pro-Republican push were Sen. Marco Rubio, who's actually running for re-election in Florida. Rubio has endorsed Trump, and he stood by him even as many other Republicans in tough races distanced themselves and even pulled their support.

"If you elect me, along with a Republican House and Senate, we will also immediately repeal the Obama-Clinton defense sequester and rebuild our badly depleted military," Trump promised.

He also mentioned the need for a GOP majority to repeal Obamacare and to help enact the other policies included in his recently announced "contract with the American voter."

This traditional aspect of party-minded campaigning is a foreign concept for Trump. The mentions on Sunday, while mundane to most, marked a departure for Trump, who has largely acted with his own self-interest in mind, even when it stands to hurt the party he carries the mantle for.

Trump rarely mentions down-ballot races in his usually hour-long stump speeches. Occasionally, he will add a local flourish, mentioning local Republicans who have endorsed and supported him — whether they're on the ballot in November or not. Generally, the names of Republicans down ballot are far from his mind as he outlines his plan for America should he take the White House.

Contrast Trump's vague approach and passing comments with Clinton's down-ballot push. Clinton is dedicating the final weeks of the campaign to her message — and to pushing for fellow Democrats who share a ballot with her on Nov. 8. She has spoken at length at rallies about down-ballot Democrats, appealing to voters to vote blue down the ticket and specifying why those candidates are best for them.

Trump again lauded polls Sunday that had him up while casting doubt on those that showed him trailing — taking special issue with data that show him down with women.

"We're doing well in the polls, but you know, I really think those polls are very inaccurate when it comes to women," Trump said.

He said he believed he was doing better with women than men but then reversed course to say that he understands he's setting records with men and would happily trade those numbers for higher support with women.

"I'd swap you out so fast," Trump told the men in the audience.