Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign

Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE jabbed at former Nevada senator Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R) on Wednesday, suggesting that Heller lost his reelection bid last November because of his hesitance to embrace Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“What happened with Dean Heller is, I tried for him, but my base did not believe him,” Trump told a group of regional reporters at the White House, according to the Nevada Independent.

“They wouldn’t go for him because Dean Heller was really hostile in my race,” he added, referencing the then-senator's reluctance to back Trump during the 2016 campaign.

ADVERTISEMENT

Heller “was hostile beyond normal politics and the hostility carried over unfortunately to the presidential run against crooked Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJoe Biden looks to expand election battleground into Trump country Biden leads Trump by 12 points among Catholic voters: poll The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden goes on offense MORE,” Trump reportedly added, referencing his 2016 Democratic opponent.

Trump did not directly answer whether Heller's opposition in 2016 cost him a shot at becoming Trump's next Interior Secretary, the Nevada Independent reported, but the president added that he likes the former senator "a lot." 

In response to Trump's barbs, Heller told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Trump called him days before his election against Sen. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenHillicon Valley: Election officials prepare for new Russian interference battle | 'Markeyverse' of online fans helps take down a Kennedy | GOP senators unveil bill to update tech liability protections Google, Apple, eBay to meet virtually with lawmakers for tech group's annual fly-in Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-Nev.) to assure him he would "win by five points."

“I consider the president a friend,” Heller told the Review-Journal. “I like him. I just hate to respond to these kind of comments. He did a lot of good for me in my campaign.”

Trump hosted three separate campaign rallies in support of Heller over the final months of the 2018 midterm campaign. Heller ultimately lost his bid for a second full term, earning 45 percent of the vote to Rosen's 50 percent.

While the president regularly boasts about the unity within the Republican Party, he has lashed out on multiple occasions at departed GOP lawmakers.

In a post-midterms press conference last November, Trump called out a handful of defeated representatives — including of Reps. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanColorado mayor says he called protesters 'domestic terrorists' out of 'frustration' Colorado governor directs officials to reexamine death of Elijah McClain in police custody Petition demanding justice for Elijah McClain surpasses 2 million signatures MORE (Colo.), Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloGOP wants more vision, policy from Trump at convention Mucarsel-Powell, Giménez to battle for Florida swing district The Memo: GOP cringes at new Trump race controversy MORE (Fla.), Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockLive coverage: House holds third day of public impeachment hearings Gun debate raises stakes in battle for Virginia legislature Progressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats MORE (Va.) and Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveFormer NFL player Burgess Owens wins Utah GOP primary The Hill's Campaign Report: The political heavyweights in Tuesday's primary fights The biggest political upsets of the decade MORE (Utah) — who he suggested lost their races because they did not align closely enough with him.

The president also regularly criticized Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeJeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Republican former Michigan governor says he's voting for Biden Maybe they just don't like cowboys: The president is successful, some just don't like his style MORE (R-Ariz.), who retired from the Senate last month.