Former President Donald Trump’s team has been working hard to ensure the right Republican candidates promote being supported by the party leader, Politico reported Monday.
With the 2022 midterm elections approaching, many candidates are eager to portray themselves as staunch Trump loyalists, Politico said. Some contenders even have displayed photos taken with the former president or proof of private conversations with the former chief executive.
Trump's team, protective of the former president’s political brand, is monitoring to make sure candidates promoting their connection are legit.
"Lots of candidates pretend to have the support of President Trump. Most are full of s***," former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told Politico.
"You will know when President Trump endorses someone."
Several campaigns have crossed the line recently according to Trump's representatives.
Last week, an internet flier using Trump’s "Save America" logo claimed the former president had endorsed businessman Hirsh Singh in New Jersey’s June 8 Republican primary.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller then took to Twitter to say:
"This posting is FAKE. President Trump has NOT endorsed in the race for Governor in New Jersey."
Politico said Singh accused one of his primary rivals of planting the fabricated flier to embarrass him. "I don’t play sneaky games like this," said Singh said, who finished a distant third in the primary.
State Sen. Mike Testa, R-1st District, who co-chaired Trump’s reelection campaign in New Jersey, told Politico the fake flier hurt Singh by raising questions of trustworthiness.
"[Trump is] his own man, and if he wanted to weigh in in the state of New Jersey he would have made it loud and clear that he was weighing in in the state of New Jersey," Testa told Politico. Testa supported Singh’s rival and eventual winner in the GOP primary, former state Assembly member Jack Ciattarelli.
In May, Miller took to Twitter to refute state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Pa., who had claimed Trump "asked" him to run for Pennsylvania governor and that the ex-president had told him, "‘Doug, run and I’ll campaign for you,'" according to Politico.
"President Trump has not made any endorsement or commitments yet in this race," Miller tweeted.
Politico reported Trump aides have gotten annoyed with Mastriano for his willingness to leak private conversations with Trump.
"I would warn people against claiming endorsements from anyone without authorization," Rob Gleason, Trump ally and a former Pennsylvania GOP chairman, told Politico. "When and if President Trump endorses anyone, it will be very unmistakable."
Higher profiled races also have been scrutinized by Trump's staff.
Lynda Blanchard, who donated nearly $1 million to pro-Trump political committees and served as his ambassador to Slovenia, is running for U.S. senator in Alabama. She launched her campaign with a video that showed Blanchard in a photo with Trump and former vice president Mike Pence, and a Trump bumper sticker-adorned on her pick-up truck.
Politico reported Trump was annoyed after hearing Blanchard had been giving the impression she had his backing. Trump then endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., even though the primary was more than a year away.
Last year alone, the Trump campaign sent cease-and-desist letters to people such as former attorney general Jeff Sessions, who’s also running for the senate seat in Alabama, and candidates for local office, according to Politico.
Dan Rodimer, a former professional wrestler running in a Texas special congressional election, ran ads in April calling himself "the Trump candidate" and released a statement saying he was the “only” candidate in the race “that has ever been endorsed by President Trump.”
"President Trump has NOT yet endorsed a candidate in TX-6," Miller tweeted. "This is a very strong pro-Trump district and President Trump is the most powerful endorsement in all of politics, but he has not yet weighed in.”
Trump later endorsed Susan Wright, widow of the late Rep. Ron Wright, R-Texas. Wright finished in first place, advancing to the July runoff.
"Until a candidate gets an official statement from President Trump, whether in writing, video or audio, they do not have the official endorsement," said John McLaughlin, who was a pollster on Trump’s campaigns. "It’s dishonest. If proven, it could totally backfire."
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