Gardner, Portman endorse Trump for 2020

Gardner, Portman endorse Trump for 2020
© Greg Nash

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout MORE (R-Colo.) is throwing his support behind President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE’s 2020 reelection bid, a move that could stir trouble for his own electoral prospects next year.

Gardner, a onetime critic of Trump, told IJR that he was backing the president, because he believed Trump would do right by the people of Colorado.

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“Look, there are things here – look, I’ve made it very clear that where I agree with the president, we will agree or where I disagree, we will disagree,” Gardner said. “But I’m going to fight like hell for Colorado, and we’ve done some good things for Colorado.”

The endorsement could carry some political risk for Gardner. He’s up for reelection in 2020 in a state that has moved increasingly in Democrats’ favor in recent years.

In the 2018 midterms, Democrat Jason CrowJason CrowHouse passes bills to boost small business cybersecurity Katherine Clark quietly eyes leadership ascent Senators offer bill to protect small businesses from cyberattacks MORE defeated then-Rep. 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 (R-Colo.) by more than 11 points, flipping a district that Republicans had tried desperately to hold onto.

Likewise, Democrat Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisNumber of openly LGBTQ elected officials rose nearly 25 percent since 2018: report GOP gun rights activist arrested for flashing handgun at U.S. marshal First openly gay man elected governor marks Pride with flag at state capitol MORE won his race to succeed former Gov. John Hickenlooper, extending the party’s decade-long grip on the governor’s mansion.

Another previous Republican critic of Trump, Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanFighting the opioid epidemic: Congress can't just pass laws, but must also push to enforce them The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Rising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems MORE (R-Ohio), also offered his endorsement to the president, telling IJR that he was backing Trump, because he’s already in the White House.

“He’s the incumbent,” Portman said. “I mean, he’s in office, I work with him every day.”

“I disagree with him publicly and privately when appropriate,” he added. “But I also get a lot done, and I get that done with him. So we work with the White House, and I think that’s important for Ohio.”

Unlike Gardner, Portman isn’t up for reelection next year. But the Ohio Republican’s endorsement could potentially give Trump a boost in Ohio, one of the nation’s closest-watched electoral battlegrounds.

Trump carried the state in 2016. But a win there in 2020 is likely to be crucial for Trump if he hopes to get another term in the White House.

Other GOP senators were more reluctant to say whether they would support Trump in 2020, including Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet MORE (Maine), who is expected to face a tough reelection bid next year.

Collins, who has a reputation as a more moderate Republican, drew Democratic ire in October when she said that she would vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Former Justice John Paul Stevens dies at age 99 Robert De Niro nominated for Emmy for 'SNL' role playing Robert Mueller MORE, who faced sexual misconduct allegations stretching back to his high school days.

Asked by IJR whether she would back Trump in 2020, Collins demurred.

“Look, I’m not worried about that right now,” she said. “I’m going to concentrate on 2020 when we get to 2020.”