Trump taking in Daytona 500 before heading West

National News

Drivers stop on pit road as rain begins falling before the first of two Daytona 500 qualifying auto races at Daytona International Speedway, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump will give the command for drivers at the Daytona 500 to start their engines Sunday as he looks to win over NASCAR fans. And he will soon be off and running as well with a Western state swing that will take him to rallies planned in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The trip is another demonstration of Trump’s willingness to campaign not just in conservative strongholds but in states that lean Democratic, particularly Colorado, where Republican Sen. Cory Gardner faces a tough reelection battle. Arizona is expected to be a key swing state in the presidential election with its growing population of Hispanic voters.

But first, Trump will bask in the appreciation of thousands of NASCAR fans, becoming the second president to attend the Daytona 500 after President George W. Bush, who also appeared at the race during his reelection year.

Trump’s reelection campaign will run a TV ad during the Fox broadcast of the race and fly an aerial banner near the speedway. About 100,000 people are expected to attend this year’s race and millions more will watch on television. About 9 million people took in last year’s race on television.

Trump tweeted Sunday morning: “Getting ready to go to the Daytona 500. Will be GREAT!”

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(This story was originally published on Feb. 16, 2020)

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