Trump Stumps in Charlotte Amid Tight NC House Races

President Donald Trump arrives in Charlotte, N.C., on Aug. 31, 2018, to stump for two congressional candidates in hotly contested races. (Erika Williams/CNS)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CN) – President Donald Trump visited Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday to sign an executive order on retirement regulations and to raise money for two Republican congressional candidates, a week after the state’s General Assembly was ordered to scrap a partisan district map.

Air Force One touched ground at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport around 2:30 p.m., greeted by reporters and the applause of about 200 military personnel, local public figures and family members.

The congressional candidates Trump came to support at an evening fundraiser at the Carmel Country Club near Lake Norman also met the president’s airplane – incumbent U.S. Rep. Ted Budd of the 13th District and GOP nominee for the 9th District Mark Harris.

(Erika Williams/CNS)

After the motorcade peeled away from the tarmac, Trump went to Central Piedmont Community College’s Harris Campus to sign an executive order focusing on retirement regulations. The order directs the Labor and Treasury Departments to exempt small businesses from burdensome regulations that squander easy access to retirement plans like the 401(k).

“All Americans should be able to retire with the confidence, dignity and economic security that you want,” Trump said at the signing, adding small businesses may unite under one retirement plan as a result of the order.

This event lasted about 40 minutes, during which he briefly mentioned the 2020 Republican Convention set to take place in Charlotte. Any possible nomination of him, however, may hinge on the results of North Carolina’s midterm elections – and many others – in November.

The private fundraiser for Budd and Harris, with a $1,000 entry fee and a $25,000 photo-op with the president himself, was held to keep up with campaign demands in a “purple” state.

If Democratic candidate Dan McCready wins the 9th District race against Harris, it may boost Democrats’ chances to control the House. The district is considered a toss-up and the race has shifted into uncertainty after North Carolina’s congressional district map was contested in court.

Earlier this week, a court ordered the General Assembly to scramble together a new district map after finding the previous effort unconstitutional due to partisan gerrymandering. Many fear this will confuse voters come election day or eliminate primaries altogether. The candidates, including Budd and Harris, may find themselves running in unfamiliar districts. And with the U.S. Supreme Court currently split 4-4, the lower court’s decision may stand.

North Carolina’s purple hue was apparent just down the street from Trump’s arrival: Navy veteran Scott Morris stood under a giant inflatable duck he erected to mock the president.

“I am out here because of my daughter. The morning Trump was elected, she woke up bothered about what would happen to her black and Muslim friends at school,” he said.

Next to him, Carl Gandel stood in support of the president and wearing a shirt with MAGA – the acronym of Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” – in bold letters.

When a passerby asked why they were there, Morris and Gandel stated greatly different ideals, but together kindly asked her to join them.

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