“Many candidates pretend to have President Trump’s support. Most of them are full of shit. You will know when President Trump supports someone, “said former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
The episodes illustrate the colliding pressures faced by the former president and Republican seekers desperate for his support. While the candidates calculate that they need voters to see them as Trump recognized, the former president protects his political brand and recognizes that his much-coveted support – and the performance of the candidates they receive – is one of his most important assets is to maintain relevance.
The problem has worsened since Trump left the White House, advisors say. The former president’s team has long pushed back candidates who they accused of misrepresenting themselves as Trump’s support: in the last year alone, the Trump campaign sent letters of cease and desist to the Alabama Senate candidate, Jeff Sessions and even contenders on the local office. But now, without an extensive federal network of activists and chairmen to patrol races, the former president’s political team will have to work harder to keep the candidates in line.
The most recent flare-up came last week when a fake leaflet surfaced on the internet claiming Trump supported businessman Hirsh Singh in New Jersey’s June 8 GOP primaries. After Trump spokesman Jason Miller became aware of the release – which was supposed to mimic Trump’s official confirmation letters – he went on Twitter to explain it was “FAKE” and said that Trump “did NOT support the race.”
Singh denied in an interview that he was behind the flyer and accused one of his main rivals of planting it to embarrass it. “I don’t play such sneaky games,” said Singh, who ended up taking a distant third place.
Mike Testa, a state senator who spearheaded Trump’s re-election campaign in the state, said the release was detrimental to Singh and raised last-minute trustworthiness issues in the minds of voters. Testa recalled running for office in 2019, being careful not to say he had Trump’s support until the then-president specifically said so.
Trump is “his own man, and if he wanted to weigh himself in New Jersey state, he would have made it loud and clear that he weighed in New Jersey state,” said Testa, who supported a Singh rival and the eventual winner of the Republican Nomination, former House of Representatives Jack Ciattarelli.
A few weeks earlier, Miller knocked out Pennsylvania Senator Doug Mastriano, a future gubernatorial candidate who claimed in a radio interview that Trump had asked him to run and the ex-president told him, and I will for you advertise. ‘”
Miller shot back that Trump “has not yet given approvals or commitments” in the competition.
Trump’s aides have been upset by Mastriano, in part because of his willingness to divulge private conversations with Trump. Mastriano, who has vociferously reiterated the former president’s unsubstantiated claims that there were irregularities in the 2020 election, has spoken publicly at least four times about his talks with Trump over the gubernatorial race.
“I would warn people against soliciting endorsements from anyone without authorization. When and when President Trump endorses someone, it will be very obvious, “said Rob Gleason, a former Pennsylvania GOP chairman and a close ally of Trump.
Mastriano did not respond to a request for comment.
In April, Trump troops pushed back Dan Rodimer, a former professional wrestler who ran in a special Texas election. Rodimer ran ads referring to himself as “the Trump candidate” and issued a statement saying he was the “only” candidate in the race “ever to be endorsed by President Trump.”
Miller wrote on Twitter: “Important notice. President Trump has NOT endorsed ANY candidate, ”he added a few siren emojis to emphasize. Trump later backed Susan Wright, widow of late MP Ron Wright, shortly before the first round of special elections. Wright took first place and made the runoff election in July.
Rodimer, who finished 11th in the all-party election, insisted in a text message that he “did not imply we had Trump’s support” and that he was referring to Trump’s support during his unsuccessful bid for Congress in Nevada in 2020 .
Trump advisors say he enjoyed being courted by candidates, which kept him busy at his Mar-a-Lago estate and Bedminster golf course during his post-presidency days. The former president has received hundreds of requests for assistance, proof that he retains full power in the Republican Party, it is said.
But they warn that it is a mistake to be perceived as sham approval – and could even sink a campaign.
“Until a candidate receives an official statement from President Trump, be it in writing, via video or audio, they have no official endorsement,” said John McLaughlin, a pollster on Trump’s campaigns. “It’s dishonest. If proven, it could totally backfire. “
Trump lieutenants say they followed up other incidents, such as a statement by Texas Republican governor Don Huffines released last week calling himself a “Trump nominee”. It came just hours after the former president approved the incumbent, Governor Greg Abbott.
Blanchard started slipping with the Trump team earlier this spring when a photo of her next to the former president of Mar-a-Lago started circulating in the media, adding to the perception that he was supportive of her. While Trump likely always supported Brooks, his family members said his anger at the situation accelerated his decision to enter the contest early on. Trump’s displeasure was confirmed by four people familiar with the episode.
Blanchard’s allies say that while she has emphasized her closeness to Trump – calling herself a “Trump appointed, Trump-approved” candidate in the running for ambassadorship – they claim she was careful not to say that she was endorsed by Trump in the Senate race.
Whether that is too close for comfort can be debated. But with the primaries just beginning, Trump officials say one thing is for sure: more false claims about supporting the candidates are only inevitable.
“President Trump or his people will find out quickly,” said former Trump poll researcher Tony Fabrizio, “and correct the data set.”