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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 TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call 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 ClintonBiden must wait weekend for State Department pick Texas Supreme Court rejects Alex Jones request to toss lawsuits from Sandy Hook parents Paris Agreement: Biden's chance to restore international standing 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 RosenSenate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee House Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close 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 governor says he was not exposed to COVID-19 after Aurora mayor tests positive Colorado mayor says he called protesters 'domestic terrorists' out of 'frustration' Colorado governor directs officials to reexamine death of Elijah McClain in police custody MORE (Colo.), Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloThe Memo: Historic vote leaves Trump more isolated than ever The Memo: GOP and nation grapple with what comes next House Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members MORE (Fla.), Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockFormer GOP congresswoman calls on Republicans to back impeachment 22 retired GOP members of Congress call for Trump's impeachment Former GOP congressman calls for Biden to receive presidential briefings MORE (Va.) and Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveVoters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican Democrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains McAdams concedes to Owens in competitive Utah district 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 FlakeArizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear MORE (R-Ariz.), who retired from the Senate last month.