McConnell urged Trump to speak out against Blankenship: report

McConnell urged Trump to speak out against Blankenship: report
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President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE's plea for West Virginia Republicans to reject the Senate candidacy of former mining CEO Don Blankenship came at the urging of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team McConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 MORE (R-Ky.), The New York Times reports.

McConnell urged the president in a phone call to speak out against Blankenship, a Republican official familiar with the call told the Times.

A White House official said Trump and McConnell spoke about Blankenship and the West Virginia Senate race, but added that the president was already planning to weigh in with a tweet days before the conversation.

Trump on Monday tweeted that Blankenship — who spent a year in prison for a mine safety violation after a fatal mine explosion — can’t win in the general election. He also suggested he does not want a repeat of the Alabama special Senate election, which saw Democrat Doug Jones defeat Republican Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreAlabama GOP gears up for fierce Senate primary clash Press: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Roy Moore loses lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen MORE in the deep-red state.

Blankenship responded by saying that he is “Trumpier than Trump” and that the president doesn’t know him or understand how flawed his primary opponents are.

Internal Republican polls have Blankenship in the lead just one day before the West Virginia Senate primary, spurring national Republicans to make an eleventh-hour push against him.

An internal poll from one of Blankenship’s rivals had the ex-coal CEO slightly ahead, with 31 percent of the vote. Rep. Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsWest Virginia New Members 2019 Republican Carol Miller holds off Democrat in West Virginia House race Trump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report MORE (R-W.Va.) had 28 percent of the vote and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was in third place with 27 percent of the vote.

On Monday, Blankenship touted his own internal poll that gave him 37 percent of the vote to Morrisey’s 20 percent and Jenkins’s 15 percent.

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Blankenship attacked the Washington establishment and McConnell in particular to argue that to “drain the swamp” West Virginia should elect him, “the most anti-establishment candidate in America.”

“You should know me by my enemies. [Former President] Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team The Memo: Biden looks for way to win back deflated Black voters 6 in 10 say they would back someone other than Biden in 2024: Fox News poll MORE, [Sen.] Joe ManchinJoe ManchinVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Biden: A good coach knows when to change up the team The Memo: Biden looks for way to win back deflated Black voters MORE [D-W.Va.] and Mitch McConnell. They are the enemies of Making West Virginia Great Again” he said.

Blankenship has also dubbed McConnell "cocaine Mitch" and in one TV ad targeted the senator's "China family."

The family of McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, emigrated from China and founded an international shipping company.

- Jordan Fabian contributed.