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Democratic senator slated to travel with Trump to tax-reform rally

  • Senior White House officials say Trump will be joined aboard Air Force One by North Dakota's junior senator, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.
  • Heitkamp is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in next year's midterm elections.
  • Trump is not expected to offer any new details about the package of tax reforms being hammered out between administration officials and Republican leaders in Congress.
North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp
Riccardo Savi | Concordia Summit | Getty Images
North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp

President Donald Trump will travel to Mandan, North Dakota, on Wednesday to make his case for the need to reform the tax code, his second such trip in as many weeks.

In a surprise announcement, senior White House officials said Tuesday that Trump will be joined aboard Air Force One by North Dakota's junior senator, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp. Also traveling with Trump will be the state's GOP senator, John Hoeven, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Trump's remarks will include many of the same themes he addressed in a similar speech last week in Springfield, Missouri, according to White House officials. Chief among them: the need to cut the corporate tax rate, simplify the individual tax code and persuade businesses to repatriate billions of dollars parked overseas.

Like his speech in Missouri, Trump will not offer any new details about the package of reforms being hammered out between administration officials and Republican leaders in Congress. Instead, said a White House official. "He'll be talking about why tax reform is needed," the official said, leaving the details up to congressional negotiators "out of respect for congressional order."

Even without details, the White House said, a presidential road trip "almost every week" is expected in the near term, offering Trump the chance to "get out and sell" tax reform.

On Wednesday, Trump will continue to hammer Democrats for "obstructing" American jobs, a line of attack he debuted last week in the home state of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and a preview of the tone he intends to take during the 2018 midterm election campaign.

"If Democrats continue their obstruction, if they don't want to bring back your jobs, raise your pay and help America win, voters should deliver a clear message: Do your job to deliver for America, or find a new job," Trump will say, according to the White House, which released excerpts of the speech in advance.

But in a nod to Heitkamp, a vulnerable Democrat running for re-election, Trump will say that North Dakota's energy boom "is a reminder of what can happen when we promote American jobs instead of obstructing them."

The White House said it was unclear whether Heitkamp would eventually endorse Trump's tax reform plan once details are released. But her appearance fulfills a longstanding goal of the president's to win bipartisan support, or the appearance of bipartisan support, for his legislative priorities.

It also signals that the Democratic bloc, which successfully held together to oppose Trump's Obamacare repeal, may not be as ironclad on tax reform as it was on health care.

Heitkamp, however, is hardly a typical Democrat. Elected in a state that Trump won by 36 percentage points in the 2016 general election, Heitkamp is considered one of the Senate's most vulnerable Democrats going into next year's elections.