McConnell urged Trump to speak out against Blankenship: report

McConnell urged Trump to speak out against Blankenship: report
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally 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 McConnellMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Trump expects to nominate woman to replace Ginsburg next week Video of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral 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 MooreVulnerable Senate Democrat urges unity: 'Not about what side of the aisle we're on' Sessions hits back at Trump days ahead of Alabama Senate runoff Judge allows Roy Moore lawsuit over Sacha Baron Cohen prank to proceed 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.


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 ObamaMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Warning signs flash for Lindsey Graham in South Carolina Majority of voters say Trump should not nominate a Supreme Court justice: poll MORE, [Sen.] Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Gardner on court vacancy: Country needs to mourn Ginsburg 'before the politics begin' Barrett seen as a front-runner for Trump Supreme Court pick 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.