Trump called Blankenship after Senate primary loss: report

Trump called Blankenship after Senate primary loss: report
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpEx-ethics chief calls on Trump to end 'monstrous' migrant policies Laura Bush blasts Trump migrant policy as 'cruel' and 'immoral' US denies report of coalition airstrike on Syria MORE called ex-coal executive Don Blankenship on Wednesday, one day after Blankenship lost the GOP Senate nomination in West Virginia, according to Politico.

Three unidentified sources described the brief call to the news outlet as "straightforward, polite and cordial," with Trump offering praise for Blankenship's campaign.

The Hill has reached out to Blankenship's office for comment.

Despite aligning himself closely with the president, Blankenship's campaign took a hit the day before the West Virginia primary when Trump urged voters to reject his candidacy. 

"To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference," Trump tweeted on Monday. "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 president, echoing similar concerns from Republicans, reasoned that Blankenship wouldn't be able to defeat Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinManchin touts support for Trump border wall in new ad Dems seek to leverage ObamaCare fight for midterms White House was in talks with Manchin to lead Veterans Affairs: report MORE in November's general election.

The GOP sees West Virginia — a state that Trump carried by more than 40 percentage points — as a prime opportunity to help widen their narrow 51-seat majority. And the party believes West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is the candidate who could topple a potentially vulnerable Manchin.

Blankenship, who finished third on Tuesday, said Trump's call for voters to reject him likely cost him the nomination. 

"If there was any single factor, based on the polling of different times...it was probably President Trump's lack of endorsement...I don't know what else it would have been unless the polls were way off," he said in his concession speech Tuesday night.

In the final days of the campaign, national Republicans, anxious about a repeat of last year’s Alabama special election in which conservative firebrand Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreGeorge Will says Trump doesn’t inspire ‘cult’ in GOP: ‘This is fear’ RNC mum on whether it will support Trump-backed Corey Stewart Loyalty to Donald Trump is new normal for the Republican Party MORE won the Senate nomination only to be defeated in a shocking upset by Democrat Doug Jones, unleashed a host of last-ditch efforts to quash Blankenship's candidacy.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul's neighbor sentenced to 30 days in prison over assault Dems best GOP as Scalise returns for annual charity baseball game The Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? MORE (R-Ky.), who backed Morrisey, called Blankenship an "outlier" and “not on the [Republican] spectrum" during a campaign stop in West Virginia. Meanwhile, groups aligned with the GOP and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress had a good couple of weeks — now let's keep it going McCarthy: 'The Mueller investigation has got to stop' McConnell: Mueller 'ought to wrap it up' MORE (R-Ky.) — whom Blankenship attacked repeatedly throughout his campaign — released comments and video condemning the candidate.

Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsDem poll: Manchin leads GOP opponent by 12 points Blankenship third-party bid worries Senate GOP Blankenship to run third-party Senate campaign after losing GOP primary MORE and Patrick Morrisey are the true conservatives. Don’t vote Don Blankenship,” warned one video released by Mountain Families PAC, an Arlington, Va.-based super PAC that spent more than $1.3 million running online and TV ads against Blankenship.

Blankenship took a parting shot at Trump on Wednesday, claiming the president had spread "fake news" against him.

"You, yourself, also spread fake news against me. Your interference in the West Virginia election displayed a lack of understanding of the likely outcome of the upcoming general election," Blankenship wrote in an open letter to Trump. "Patrick Morrisey will likely lose the general election. It’s too late to change that, but it’s not helpful to do to me what others are doing to you."

Blankenship closed the letter by stating that he looks forward to meeting Trump "in the near future."

Politico reported that Trump also reached out to Rep. Evan Jenkins, another Republican challenger who finished second to Morrisey, but has yet to connect with Morrisey himself.