President Trump said during an exclusive Oval Office interview on Thursday that his campaign is “putting New York in play” against Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
Trump told The Post that he believes a spike in violent crime and high taxes can help him win his home state in an upset against Biden and running mate Kamala Harris.
“Over the last six months what’s happened is insane. It’s insane. So we’re going to try very hard to win New York and that will be the first time — is that since Ronald Reagan, I guess? Since Ronald Reagan,” Trump said.
“I will bring down taxes and I’ll make sure that New York City is a safe place. I mean, this is one of our cherished — this is a cherished diamond of this country. And we can’t let this happen to New York.”
The president said his campaign would spend money on efforts to win New York and that he plans to make campaign stops. He bashed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s performance.
“We’re going to invest in there, we’ll visit. I’m going to put it down as you know on the list,” Trump said. “For instance, we think we’re going to win New Mexico, we think we’re going to win Minnesota. We think we’re, we have a shot perhaps at Virginia because they have a very, very strange governor.”
Trump summoned to the Oval Office his White House political director Brian Jack, who told The Post he believed that Republicans have a good chance of at least flipping some congressional seats.
“The first thing I say is look at the congressional races, and New York, you’ve got at least three, four, maybe even five competitive seats. And some of those seats the president carried by very wide margins. You look at New York 11, New York 19, there’s quite a few opportunities in upstate as well,” Jack said.
Trump interjected: “Pick up a lot.”
“I think we can pick up what, five seats? And that’s in addition to trying to win it. I think we can pick up a lot of seats,” Trump added.
Trump brandished a map of New York’s 2016 presidential election results.
The map showed most counties in red, meaning he won them, despite losing the state by 22 points to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump tossed the paper across the Resolute Desk toward reporters from The Post. Aides also had copies of the map and handed them out too. Clinton crushed Trump in 2016 in New York. She took 59 percent of the vote. Trump got 36.5 percent.
Trump acknowledged winning New York was an uphill battle but cited a surge in crime and an increase in taxes.
In New York City, “shootings are double, murders, everything has doubled and tripled. And I’ve heard numbers, 244 percent on some kinds of crimes. What is it, 277 percent [for shootings]?” Trump said.
“I’ll solve the crime problem. I’ll solve their tax problem. I’ll solve all their problems. Who would not vote for me?” he said. “We’re going to look into SALT, we’re going to look into crime, we’re going to look into all of the things and solve the problems — of many problems that they have in New York.”
He continued: “We did well last time, but to get over 50 percent is hard for a Republican. But we’re putting New York in play. We’re going to play it very strong and very hard. And we are going to try to win New York.”
A spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo disputed Trump’s claim about taxes in New York state.
“President Trump needs to stop lying. All income tax rates are lower today than when Governor Cuomo took office — the only person who raised New York state taxes was Trump with SALT,” said Cuomo communications director Peter Ajemian.
Though Trump lost the state significantly in 2016, he said he’s seen “real polls” that show him doing well.
“We’re going to put a very strong move in New York. Because upstate, Long Island, you know everything outside of the core, I get a vast majority of the votes,” he said.
“I think we have a tremendous shot. I think we have a very good shot. Now typically it’s not in play, but we’re going to put a strong move on New York. We may also do it in New Jersey, by the way.”
Trump vowed “to take a good look” at an effort by GE union members in Schenectady, NY, who want him to require that three power plant generators ordered by the Tennessee Valley Authority be built at their facility rather than overseas. “Get me that information, yeah I’ll do it,” he said.
The president insisted repeatedly he’s serious about winning New York.
“I think we have a very good chance. Who can be happy if you live in Manhattan and your taxes are going through the roof? And your quality of life is way down, and they’re defunding the police?” he said.
Syracuse: 2020 election: Trump says he can win New York state, would be first Republican since Reagan
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