Gardner, Portman endorse Trump for 2020

Gardner, Portman endorse Trump for 2020
© Greg Nash

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law Frustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran Graham: Trump officials not adequately briefing on Iran threat MORE (R-Colo.) is throwing his support behind President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 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 CrowStudents walk out of vigil for shooting victims after speakers talk gun control 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform Denver Post editorial board says Gardner endorsement was 'mistake' MORE defeated then-Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard Coffman20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform Denver Post editorial board says Gardner endorsement was 'mistake' Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign MORE (R-Colo.) by more than 11 points, flipping a district that Republicans had tried desperately to hold onto.

Likewise, Democrat Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisSchool awards honorary diploma to student killed in Colorado school shooting Colorado secretary of state bans employees from traveling to Alabama after abortion law Colorado governor marks day for teen who died in school shooting 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 PortmanThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget WANTED: A Republican with courage Companies warn Trump trade war is about to hit consumers 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 CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights 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 KavanaughGraham urges Trump not to abandon infrastructure talks with Democrats 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests Maker of 'F*ck Trump' lipstick vows to donate proceeds to reproductive rights groups 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.”