Gardner, Portman endorse Trump for 2020

Gardner, Portman endorse Trump for 2020
© Greg Nash

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerTariffs threaten 1.5M jobs: Study This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' MORE (R-Colo.) is throwing his support behind President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report 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 CrowBill introduced to give special immigrant visas to Kurds who helped US in Syria Congress set for showdown with Trump over Kurds Bipartisan lawmakers who visited Syrian border slam Trump's 'rash decision' 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 PolisDrudge faces conservative pushback after mocking Trump's Colorado wall comment Trump says remark about Colorado border wall was made 'kiddingly' Colorado governor mocks Trump for saying he's building wall there 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 PortmanWhy Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump GOP lawmakers fear Trump becoming too consumed by impeachment fight 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 CollinsOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families 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 KavanaughElection 2020: Why I'm watching Amy and Andy Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation Protesters roll out a screen playing Blasey Ford's testimony ahead of Federalist Society dinner 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.”