Gardner, Portman endorse Trump for 2020

Gardner, Portman endorse Trump for 2020
© Greg Nash

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerDemocrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Senate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum MORE (R-Colo.) is throwing his support behind President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir 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 CrowImpeachment manager dismisses concerns Schiff alienated key Republican votes: 'This isn't about any one person' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Female impeachment managers say American public know a 'rigged' trial when they see one MORE defeated then-Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanBottom Line Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (R-Colo.) by more than 11 points, flipping a district that Republicans had tried desperately to hold onto.

Likewise, Democrat Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisColorado governor pardons woman who sought sanctuary in churches to avoid deportation Democrats spend big to put Senate in play Drudge faces conservative pushback after mocking Trump's Colorado wall comment 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 PortmanSenate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses Collins walks impeachment tightrope The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions 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 CollinsDemocrats step up pressure over witnesses after Bolton bombshell Impeachment manager dismisses concerns Schiff alienated key Republican votes: 'This isn't about any one person' Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court 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 KavanaughDemocrats Manchin, Jones signal they're undecided on Trump removal vote Collins walks impeachment tightrope Supreme Court sharply divided over state aid for religious schools 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.”