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
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Flynn transcripts reveal plenty except crime or collusion 50 people arrested in Minneapolis as hundreds more National Guard troops deployed Missouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' 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.

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Heller “was hostile beyond normal politics and the hostility carried over unfortunately to the presidential run against crooked Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump campaign launches Asian Pacific Americans coalition Van Jones: A 'white, liberal Hillary Clinton supporter' can pose a greater threat to black Americans than the KKK Taylor Swift slams Trump tweet: 'You have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence?' 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 RosenThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees 'strong likelihood' of another relief package; Warner says some businesses 'may not come back' at The Hill's Advancing America's Economy summit The Hill's Coronavirus Report: CDC Director Redfield responds to Navarro criticism; Mnuchin and Powell brief Senate panel Hillicon Valley: Experts raise security concerns about online voting | Musk finds supporter in Trump | Officials warn that Chinese hackers targeting COVID-19 research groups 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 CoffmanBottom Line Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (Colo.), Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloTrump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy Republicans can't exploit the left's climate extremism without a better idea Progressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign 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) LoveThe biggest political upsets of the decade Former GOP lawmaker: Trump's tweets have to stop Congressional Women's Softball team releases roster 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 Flake'Never Trump' Republicans: Fringe, or force to be reckoned with? The Memo: Can the Never Trumpers succeed? Former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake says he will not vote for Trump MORE (R-Ariz.), who retired from the Senate last month.