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 TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Heller “was hostile beyond normal politics and the hostility carried over unfortunately to the presidential run against crooked Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhy Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm 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 RosenKey endorsements: A who's who in early states Female senators hatch plan to 'shame' Senate into voting faster Lawmakers introduce legislation to improve cyber workforce funding 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 CoffmanKoch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform Denver Post editorial board says Gardner endorsement was 'mistake' MORE (Colo.), Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloDemocratic lawmaker pushes back on Castro's call to repeal law making illegal border crossings a crime The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz MORE (Fla.), Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockProgressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers GOP lawmaker introduces bill to stop revolving door 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 urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers MORE (R-Ariz.), who retired from the Senate last month.