The losses raise questions about Trump's reputation as he sets out on a strenuous 2020 campaign. The President had hoped to gain some political momentum through his participation in the three competitions, each of which won double digits in 2016, at a dangerous moment in his presidency.
Those close to the president argue that he is not responsible for the results in Kentucky and Louisiana. Bevin was one of the country's least popular governors, while Rispone was a relatively unknown political freshman who faced a popular Democratic government official, John Bel Edwards. Although the president can help, he is not always expected to pull faulty candidates across the finish line.
But Trump tried to turn any contest into a referendum about himself ̵
"In two days I really need you, but you really need to send a message to the corrupt Democrats in Washington," he said. "They are corrupt. They are crazy, crazy.
After the defeat in Kentucky, the president added, riding a lot on Louisiana.
"Well, Trump has suffered a loss," the president said, referring to Bevin's defeat. "So you have to give me a big profit, please. OK? OK?
Trump's activities in the Louisiana Competition were particularly extensive: in addition to the rallies, he called for conservative radio stations for Rispone, recorded voting robots and videos, and sent a stream of tweets to save Edwards. On Saturday, the president wrote several tweets in which he encouraged the Louisians to vote for Rispone.
Trump's political operation also invested heavily, and the Republican National Committee spent $ 2 million on the race. The president was personally interested in the contest and questioned adjutants and allies about developments.
During a radio show in Louisiana on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence noted that "the President and I left everything on the pitch."
Rispone was just as aggressive in tying himself to the president, largely renouncing public appearances in favor of Trump-Centic's high-dollar TV ad campaign. This summer he ran to places where he proudly announced that in 2016 he made a donation to the president and even pasted a Trump bumper sticker on his truck. In the final weeks before the election, he aired ads with President's footage, tearing Edwards off.
The defeat in Louisiana heightened concerns among some of the president that he had spent too much political capital on the three non-federal off-year races. Some of the president's relatives feared he would be the main culprit for losses, and winning every race was a daunting task. Other Republicans were surprised that the president held a last-minute rally on Thursday night, as the race was not a safe bet.
Louisiana was particularly difficult despite his conservative leanings. Edwards has a record as a strictly conservative Democrat. Critics of the Rispone campaign claim that his confidence in television advertising as opposed to personal events made it extremely difficult for the president to drag him to victory. Other high-ranking Republicans reported an arbitrary campaign that often lacked a clear message and strategy.
"This loss has nothing to do with President Trump. He was not involved in the vote, "said Lionel Rainey, a Louisiana-based GOP adviser who worked for Rispone's main opponent, GOP MP Ralph Abraham. "It's up to the candidate to convince the majority of voters to vote for him. Rispone's campaign did not succeed. "
" It's not enough to coordinate with another politician, even the president, "Rainey added.
John Couvillon, a Louisiana-based pollster who normally works with Republicans, said a number of local challenges made Trump's rescue mission difficult. Rispone struggled to win the followers of Abraham, and Edwards managed to increase minority turnout.
"There is an increased expectation that the Republican candidate can win just because Trump [for] is a Republican candidate," Couvillon said.
Perhaps Trump's biggest challenge was persuading the Louisians to turn against Edwards, whom he repeatedly taunted as "radical liberals."
Edwards, who opposes abortion rights and gun rights, was careful with Trump. He avoided criticizing the president and instead chose to visit the White House during Trump's term. At one point in the year, Edwards even ran a television ad promoting a presidential visit to the state.
Edwards, whom Trump called "the failed leftist man" during his rally on Thursday, called to the president in his victory speech.
"Our common love for Louisiana is always more important than the party-political differences that sometimes separate us," Edwards told the supporters. "And as for the president, God bless his heart."