Trump throws support behind Barletta in Pa. Senate race

Trump throws support behind Barletta in Pa. Senate race
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN analyst Kirsten Powers: Melania's jacket should read 'Let them eat cake' CNN's Cuomo confronts Lewandowski over 'womp womp' remark Sessions says FBI agent Peter Strzok no longer has his security clearance MORE on Sunday threw his support behind Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaPoll: Casey holds double-digit lead over Barletta in Pa. Senate race How lawmakers have landed an endorsement from Trump Pennsylvania lawmakers invite Eagles to Capitol after Trump snub MORE (R-Pa.), who is seen as the leading Republican candidate seeking to unseat Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyAction by Congress is needed to help victims of domestic violence Poll: Casey holds double-digit lead over Barletta in Pa. Senate race Ivanka Trump to press Senate on vocational training bill MORE Jr. (D) in the midterm elections.

“Rep. Lou Barletta, a Great Republican from Pennsylvania who was one of my very earliest supporters, will make a FANTASTIC Senator,” Trump tweeted. “He is strong & smart, loves Pennsylvania & loves our Country! Voted for Tax Cuts, unlike Bob Casey, who listened to Tax Hikers Pelosi and Schumer!”

Trump had already given Barletta a de facto endorsement last year when he said during a rally that the candidate was a "great guy" who will "win big."

The president has lately taken an interest in elections in Pennsylvania, a state that proved vital to Trump’s victory in 2016.

Last month, the president visited the state to signal support for Rick Saccone, the Republican candidate in a special election to replace Rep. Tim MurphyTim MurphySaccone loses GOP primary comeback bid in Pa. Nearly half of voters hope for Dems to win majority in 2018: poll GOP Rep. Dent will leave Congress in May MORE (R), who announced his resignation last month after reports that he had urged a woman with whom he had been having an affair to get an abortion.

Barletta was an early supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign. After Trump expressed his support, Barletta tweeted on Sunday afternoon: “We are revitilizing the American dream day after day. America will grow America will prosper America will be greater than ever before. #MAGA.”

Barletta has drawn fire recently over a CNN report that when he was mayor of Hazleton, Pa., he did an interview in 2006 with American Free Press, which is known for promoting anti-Semitic views, including the idea that the Holocaust wasn’t real.

The next year he also headlined a rally featuring a band that promoted Holocaust and 9/11 conspiracies.

According to Barletta’s deputy campaign manager, Barletta was “not aware of these individuals’ background,” and has always condemned “hate, bigotry and racial supremacy in all its forms.”

The Pennsylvania primary elections for the Senate will be held on May 15.