WALKER, MICH. - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, buoyed by tightening polls and a renewed controversy over Democrat Hillary Clinton, told an enthusiastic crowd in suburban Grand Rapids Monday that the U.S. could face a "constitutional crisis" if Clinton is elected president on Nov. 8.
Trump predicted a "protracted criminal investigation and probably a criminal trial," and said "nothing will get done."
FBI Director James Comey has "brought back his reputation" by reactivating an investigation into the handling of her State Department e-mails, Trump said to loud cheers.
"I was not a fan," of Comey, Trump told more than 6,000 supporters at the Deltaplex arena in Walker. But "I have to give the FBI credit," because "this took guts."
Trump's campaign, which had been badly trailing in most polls since the Oct. 7 release of an Access Hollywood video in which Trump speaks in vulgar terms about kissing and groping women without their consent, is voicing new confidence following a recent tightening in national and state polls and Friday's release of a letter from Comey saying an investigation into Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's handling of State Department e-mails has been reactivated.
If you missed Trump's speech, watch it below (tap/click here, mobile users):
The Washington Post reported Monday that the Trump campaign, with just over one week to go before the Nov. 8 election, is targeting Michigan, Wisconsin and New Mexico as three states that will receive increased focus in the final days of the campaign. All three are states won by Democratic President Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012.
Trump also hit on past themes, promising to rebuild Detroit and Flint and bring back Michigan's manufacturing jobs from overseas, while scrapping trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership he says have hurt employment. He promised massive tax cuts for both corporations and the American middle class. And he said he would end the Syrian refugee resettlement program as a national security risk.
He vowed to keep immigrant "thugs" out of the U.S.
A Republican presidential candidate has not won Michigan since George H. W. Bush in 1988, but many analysts say Trump has a narrow path to the 270 electoral votes he needs to win the presidency and would need to flip states such as Michigan to do so, even if he wins major battleground states such as Ohio and Florida.
Trump made his sixth visit to Michigan Monday since the Republican convention. Clinton has visited Michigan twice since the Democratic convention.
The Free Press reported Oct. 27 -- before Friday's explosive news from the FBI -- that Clinton's lead over Trump had narrowed to 7 points from 11 points earlier in October. The polls of 600 likely voters, conducted by EPIC-MRA of Lansing, have margins of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Herman Cain also campaigned in Michigan for Trump over the weekend.
Despite the fewer number of visits, the Clinton campaign is also making continued efforts in Michigan. Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine campaigned in Warren Sunday. Clinton's daughter Chelsea was in the state over the weekend, and musical celebrity Cher was making stops Monday in Kalamazoo, East Lansing, and Flint.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Sander Levin and Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon were holding a news conference in Warren Monday morning, ahead of Trump's afternoon visit there, to "highlight the stark difference between Michigan’s values of inclusiveness and opportunity for all and Trump’s hateful and divisive rhetoric."
Trump took the stage about an hour and 20 minutes behind schedule for the noon Halloween event near Grand Rapids, which drew some Trump supporters in costumes. One woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty and another dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit with the name "Clinton" stenciled on the back.
In addition to the e-mail scandal, Trump promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare and put America first.
"I am going to bring your jobs back to America," Trump said. "The long nightmare of jobs leaving Michigan will be coming to a very rapid end."
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who took office in 2011, has taken partial credit for a sharp drop in Michigan's unemployment rate from double digits to below the national average. But Snyder has not endorsed Trump and has criticized Trump's comments about immigration and women.
Intermittent chants of "lock her up" and "USA" began about 80 minutes before Trump was scheduled to take the stage. The arena, which seats 5,000, was full, plus there were at least another 1,000 people standing in the area in front of the stage.
Gerry Barry, 72, of Caledonia, a consultant for a furniture company, waited in a long line Monday morning to enter the Deltaplex arena near Grand Rapids.
"It's nice to see a non-politician running for office," said Barry, who gives Trump a 75% chance of being elected president. "We've had too many professional politicians in there."
Barry said he wants a president who will let "people run their lives and not be told what to do by government," and he thinks Trump, as a business executive, will surround himself with good people.
Barry said he's not concerned that the election will be "rigged" to favor the Democrats, despite Trump's repeated assertions that it could be.
Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, who warmed up the crowd at Monday's rally in Walker, told the Free Press ahead of her speech that the letter from the FBI director made public Friday "reinforces the untrustworthiness of Hillary Clinton."
McDaniel said Trump has always made Michigan a priority and she expects him to continue to fight for every Michigan vote through Nov. 8.
Peter Secchia, a Grand Rapids businessman and former U.S. ambassador to Italy, said in his warm-up speech that McDaniel should drop "Romney" from her name because of the lack of support for Trump from her uncle, Michigan native and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
"If you don't want to support Trump, shut up," Secchia told the crowd to loud cheers.
Detroit Free Press