President Donald Trump is spending Tuesday in Louisiana visiting a liquified natural gas facility in Cameron Parish to highlight his policies deregulating the industry, and then raising money in Metairie for his reelection.
Such a juxtaposition isn’t unusual. Presidents of both parties routinely combine official and political trips into one, the better to get the taxpayers to share travel expenses.
What is a bit unusual about this situation is what awaits him on the ground: A governor from the opposing party, knee-deep in his own reelection campaign, celebrating his visit.
Gov. John Bel Edwards’ campaign is marking Trump’s arrival by running a television ad in Lake Charles touting the same energy sector growth that the president is coming to celebrate. The visit, the Democratic governor says in the ad, is “confirmation that we are moving in the right direction” and evidence of what can happen when politicians put “people over politics.”
That lofty sentiment notwithstanding, politics is written all over Edwards’ greeting. Trump’s approval rating among Louisianans easily topped 50 percent in two recent polls, and there are Republicans backing Edwards’ two declared opponents who hope his visit could tilt some voters.
That’s probably not so realistic for a couple of reasons. One is that voters in Louisiana are highly familiar with Edwards, so are less likely to be swayed by a presidential nod than if they were evaluating someone they hadn’t watched up close.
Another is that Trump may not bother to put his muscle into unseating Edwards this fall, given that gubernatorial control of state houses is much less important to his own prospects than who holds majorities in Congress.
Also, Trump tends to get involved in campaigns against Democrats who’ve angered him, and Edwards has gone out of his way to get along. The attitude seems to be mutual; Edwards has been a regular visitor to the White House, for events concerning criminal justice and opioid abuse and for a state dinner for French President Emmanuel Macron, where he was the only Democratic office-holder to score an invitation.
So while the ad is aimed at Louisiana voters, not the president himself, don’t underestimate the effect that the warm welcome could have on the man on Air Force One, too. As we’ve all seen over and over with Trump, a little flattery can go a very long way.