President Trump recently said he plans to eventually spend four to five days campaigning for Republican candidates ahead of the midterm elections. But the reality is that out of the 23 most vulnerable House Republicans, only two candidates said they would accept Trump's help — and neither were especially eager about it.
Driving the news: Axios called all 23 Republican congressmen and their campaign representatives in districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 (listed above) and asked whether they would want the president to campaign for them in their district.
- 14 didn't respond, four said they didn't want him, one dodged the question, two had "no comment," one — Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California — said they'd be happy to have Trump's support, and one — Rep. Carlos Curbelo — said he'd accept Trump's support if the president endorsed his bipartisan approach.
The bottom line: The fact that so many congressmen have a hard time answering whether they want a president from their own party to support them in the midterms tells you everything you need to know about Trump's political strength.
What they aren't saying, according to Alex Conant, a Republican strategist and former spokesman for President George W. Bush:
"Many candidates want the president to fundraise for them, but will go to great lengths to avoid being seen with him publicly. An ad of Trump gripping and grinning with a Republican congressman could be priceless fodder for Democratic campaign commercials in certain districts."
Here's who went on the record:
- Tyler Sandberg, campaign manager for Rep. Mike Coffman (R, CO-06): "Coffman has been one of the most outspoken members to split with Trump, so I don’t think it would make sense for him to even come here.”
- Veronica Vera, communications director for Rep. Peter Roskam (R, IL-06): "We have not requested the president's assistance and we don’t plan on requesting his assistance."
- Ken Grubbs, press secretary for Rohrabacher: "He’d be happy to have the president campaign for him."
- Joanna Rodriguez, communications director for Curbelo: "While Carlos has never invited public figures to campaign with him, he has welcomed those who have offered. He has also joined Presidents Obama and Trump in South Florida to stand with them on issues in which he agrees with them ... Anyone who wants to support Carlos' efforts and endorse his bipartisan approach to public service is welcome to do so."