Trump aims to be distraction for Democrats on Western U.S. swing

By Steve Holland
Trump speaks before his departure from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland

By Steve Holland

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - President Donald Trump began a four-day Western swing on Tuesday with a fundraiser in Los Angeles, the first stop on a trip aimed at making himself a distraction as Democratic presidential candidates focus on the Nevada caucuses.

Buoyed by his acquittal in the U.S. Senate impeachment trial, Trump has campaign rallies planned in Phoenix on Wednesday, Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Thursday and Las Vegas on Friday. All the events are aimed at providing a competing message to the Democrats.

The Democratic contenders hold their Nevada caucuses on Saturday as they battle to determine who among them will win the nomination to face Trump in the Nov. 3 election.

Trump, who is facing only token opposition in the Republican race, is making no apologies about his strategy of trying to distract from the Democrats this week. He said he would do the same ahead of the Democratic primary in South Carolina on Feb. 29.

"Look, we have a big voice and we might as well use it," Trump told reporters.

At a hotel in Beverly Hills, Trump raised about $7 million at a fundraising event benefiting his campaign and the Republican National Committee.

He was to spend each night of his trip at his Trump hotel in Las Vegas, the city where Democrats will debate on Wednesday night, the first of their debates to feature former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Trump has been using Twitter to bash Bloomberg, accusing him of a short stature and giving him the nickname "Mini Mike." Bloomberg, a billionaire media mogul, has risen in opinion polls while spending vast sums of his personal fortune on advertising.



(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney)