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Lara Trump visits Thelma’s to rally for Republican votes

SALISBURY — As local veterans filtered into Thelma’s Down Home Cooking for free coffee and conversation Tuesday morning, they found a room abuzz with anticipation.

There were lights, there were cameras, and — eventually — there were some special guests. Congressmen Richard Hudson and Ted Budd were joined by Lara Trump, the daughter-in-law of the president.

The purpose of her visit was to encourage local voters to make it to the polls for the Nov. 6 midterms, an election that Lara Trump called “not as exciting” as presidential elections but important nonetheless.

Voter turnout records in Rowan County show waning interest in off-year elections. Nearly 68 percent of voters cast ballots in the 2016 election compared to 43 percent in 2014.

“Midterm elections are incredibly important,” said Trump, the wife of Eric Trump and a campaign adviser for the president. “… If you voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, the most important thing you can do is get out and vote in the midterms for Republicans.”

Of particular focus during her talk was Congressional District 13, a race that’s drawing national attention. Budd faces three opponents in his quest for a second term: Democrat Kathy Manning, Libertarian Tom Bailey and the Green Party’s Robert Corriher.

In late September, the race between Budd and Manning was moved from “leaning right” to “toss-up” by the Cook Political Report, a national election tracker.

Hudson, who represents District 8, spoke in support of Budd before Lara Trump greeted Tuesday’s crowd. Hudson said the biggest threat in the District 13 race is the amount of outside money being spent on it.

“That is a seat that Nancy Pelosi has identified she’s got to win to become speaker again,” Hudson said. “That’s why you see all this money coming in supporting Ted’s opponent.”

Hudson faces Democrat Frank McNeill is his bid for re-election.

Manning has disputed such accusations, saying in an August campaign message that she would vote against Pelosi for speaker if Democrats take control of the House.

Trump, a native of Wrightsville Beach who still has family there, said that without the support of a Republican House and Senate, recent progress would “come to a screeching halt.”

Progress under the Trump administration includes a “roaring economy,” tax cuts, and improved international relations through talks with North Korea and moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

She also cited the president’s work to revitalize the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“That’s been a campaign promise of his,” she said. “… (H)e talked about the fact that our veterans really had been left behind, … and you see that he really has done so much with revitalizing the VA and making sure that people are held accountable there, that the veterans are getting the treatment that they need.”

But Trump said a greater threat could arise should too many House and Senate seats flip this November.

“Make no mistake about it, folks,” she said. “They will try to impeach (the president) … if the Democrats win the House and the Senate. We do not want to see what that looks like.”

Michael Catus, a Marine Corps veteran who survived the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing in Lebanon, said he “absolutely” believes Donald Trump is doing right by veterans.

“I’m a Trump supporter in everything he does,” Catus said. “We’ve got somebody who is not politically correct, and we have somebody that’s actually going for the country and trying to put the country back on track. That’s what I love about it.”

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