“During remarks in Dallas at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum, [President] Trump reiterated his attacks on” Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), “who publicized damaging allegations against Trump’s former pick to lead the Veterans Affairs Department.”
Trump: “Senate Democrats like Jon Tester, you saw what happened there, what he did to one of the finest people in our country, what he did to the admiral? What he did was a disgrace.”
“And he targeted” Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Bob Casey (D-PA) “for their vote on ‘Kate’s Law,’ a measure that would sharpen punishments for those who attempt to return to America after being deported.” (The Hill)
Trump also again endorsed “some of Texas’ statewide officials who were in attendance. … ‘Full endorsement for this man — [Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)],’ Trump said, looking out for the U.S. senator. ‘Where’s Ted?’” (Texas Tribune)
DITCH MITCH? Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has endorsed several Senate candidates who refuse to support Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as majority leader, including investment banker Mike Gibbons (R) in Ohio, former Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward (R), and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R).
“This handful of candidates poses no real threat to McConnell’s leadership. But the endorsements show how Paul is still trying to shape the Senate Republican conference in a more libertarian, anti-establishment direction.”
“Political consultants with strong ties to Paul are also deeply involved in two of the contests. Gibbons’ senior adviser is Michael Biundo, who worked for Paul’s 2016 presidential bid. And Jesse Benton, a former Paul aide who was convicted of conspiracy and other charges for his role in a bribery scheme during the runup to the 2012 Iowa caucuses, is working for both a super PAC supporting Ward and for Maine state Sen. Eric Brakey’s (R) campaign.” (HuffPost)
“Even though Republicans control all levers of government, GOP candidates are running against Washington, echoing President Trump’s constant attacks on the capital.” (Washington Post)
SPEED READS. The AP, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, NBC, CNBC, the Washington Examiner, the Weekly Standard, and the Indianapolis Star noted Republicans candidates’ efforts to tie themselves closely to Trump. The Hill and Mother Jones noted previously reported opposition to special counsel Robert Mueller.
Stu Rothenberg: “[E]ven the most partisan Republicans are acknowledging that the list of serious targets is shrinking to five or six states. Indiana, Missouri, West Virginia, North Dakota and Florida are certainly in play, but” Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Montana look less likely to flip. (Roll Call)