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 TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE jabbed at former Nevada senator Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary 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's economic approval takes hit in battleground states: poll This is how Democrats will ensure Trump's re-election The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico 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: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Senators introduce legislation to boost cyber defense training in high school Key endorsements: A who's who in early states 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 CurbeloPelosi: GOP retirements indicate they'll be in the minority, with Democrat in the White House The Hill's Morning Report - Congress returns: What to expect Wave of GOP retirements threatens 2020 comeback MORE (Fla.), Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockGun debate raises stakes in battle for Virginia legislature Progressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers MORE (Va.) and Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveFormer GOP lawmaker: Trump's tweets have to stop Congressional Women's Softball team releases roster The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority 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 FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (R-Ariz.), who retired from the Senate last month.