CNN reports that President Donald Trump is wading into tomorrow’s GOP primary election for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia, hoping to provide some–keep a straight face–moral guidance to voters, or at least practical advise about not nominating a candidate who can’t win the general election:
President Donald Trump on Monday urged voters in West Virginia to reject controversial Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship in Tuesday’s primary, stepping into a contest where establishment Republicans have grown increasingly worried that the ex-con coal baron could win.
“To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!”
The tweet is a remarkable moment for Trump, given that Blankenship’s campaign — from its nativist tendencies to its use of conspiracy theories — takes many cues from the President’s 2016 playbook. Trump seized on Hillary Clinton’s unpopularity in West Virginia in 2016 and won 68% of the state in November.
Blankenship responded to Trump later Monday morning, saying the President “doesn’t know me and he doesn’t know how flawed my two main opponents are in this primary.”
Last week, we took note of Sen. Cory Gardner’s of Colorado’s much more qualified remarks about Don Blankenship. Gardner, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee “remembers Alabama” too, and having been stung by criticism that he abandoned the Republican nominee in that state is playing much closer to the vest in West Virginia–even if that means legitimizing a very bad candidate.
[Gardner] once quipped about how Blankenship wouldn’t be allowed onto the floor of the Senate with a home arrest ankle bracelet , a comment he says in retrospect was “probably a little too flippant.” Aware that his words might do more harm than good, Gardner refuses to weigh in on a race that could control Republican control of the Senate.
To recap, Gardner condemned Roy Moore in Alabama, only for Trump to undercut him by endorsing Moore in the campaign’s final days. In West Virginia, Gardner failed to condemn Don Blankenship. So Trump took care of it for him!
Seriously, it’s like Trump is waiting to hear what Gardner wants, and then doing the opposite. After which Gardner is left to fumble for an explanation for why he is so far off-message from the Republican President of the United States. To make things even more complicated, there were reports today that Blankenship is surging in the polls and could be on his way to an upset victory.
Safe to say this does not bode well for Gardner or Senate Republicans in November.