Candidate to replace Corker would welcome Trump's help on campaign trail

Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTaylor Swift defends staying out of the 2016 election: 'I just knew I wasn't going to help' The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal Senate passes sweeping budget deal, sending it to Trump MORE (R-Tenn.) said Thursday she would welcome President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE’s support in her campaign next year to replace outgoing Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (Tenn.), one of Trump's most vocal GOP critics.

“President Trump is very popular in Tennessee, and people are so encouraged by the work that he has done,” Blackburn said on CNN. 

“It would probably be very helpful if he were to come,” she added.

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Blackburn, a staunch supporter of Trump, announced in October she will run for Senate in 2018 to fill the seat of Corker, who is retiring.

In her announcement, Blackburn said she would fight to build a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, called the Senate “totally dysfunctional” and described herself as a “card-carrying Tennessee conservative.” 

She is the front-runner for the GOP nomination, after Gov. Bill Haslam (R) decided not to enter the race. 

Blackburn, who is backed by Breitbart News chief and former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon, is likely to face former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) in the general election. The entry of Bredesen, the last Democrat to win statewide office in Tennessee, saw the Cook Political Report shift its forecast of the race to the toss-up column.

A poll from October, which the Senate Democrats' campaign arm released this month, found Bredesen leading Blackburn by 5 points, while one from a pro-Trump super PAC released the same day gave the Republican lawmaker a 9-point lead.

Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has repeatedly criticized Trump and his policies, saying in October that he would not support the president for reelection.

“I think he’s proven himself unable to rise to the occasion,” Corker told CNN.

“I don't know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard and debases our country in the way that he does, but he does," he added. "I think the debasing of our nation ... will be what he'll be remembered most for." 

Some Republicans have been divided over whether backing from Trump, who has historically low approval ratings, would help or hurt their chances during 2018 midterm elections.

Trump backed Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeGOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama The Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back MORE (R-Ala.) in his primary runoff against Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreGOP Senate candidate 'pissed off' at Trump over health care for veterans Durbin says he has second thoughts about asking for Franken's resignation Alabama GOP senate candidate says 'homosexual activities' have ruined TV, country's moral core MORE for the Republican nomination in the Alabama Senate special election. Strange lost to Moore, who eventually earned Trump's endorsement.

Moore, who was accused of sexual misconduct, eventually lost to Democrat Doug Jones.

Trump, however, quickly distanced himself from Moore, saying he backed Strange because he knew Moore could not win the general election.

He also supported Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie (R), who lost to Democrat Ralph Northam in November. After the election, Trump said Gillespie "did not embrace me or what I stand for."

Retiring Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller testimony gives Trump a boost as Dems ponder next steps The Hill's 12:30 Report: Muller testimony dominates Washington Lawmakers, press hit the courts for charity tennis event MORE (R-Pa.) said in an interview Sunday he believes candidates in certain parts of the country “would rather he not visit,” while others would likely benefit from Trump’s support.