While Donald Trump didn’t use his Thursday night New Hampshire rally to outright endorse Corey Lewandowski’s potential campaign against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, he heaped plenty of lavish praise on the man he fired as his first campaign manager just three years ago.
Trump told his audience that Lewandowski would be “tough to beat” and would “go into Washington and he’s going to have you in mind.” Trump added, “They’re all saying, ‘Are you going to support him?’” and, “I said, ‘I don’t know if he’s running.’ So Corey, let us know please, if you don’t mind.” In a separate interview with WMUR, Trump said that if Lewandowski runs then the White House would “certainly make a decision quickly” about whether to endorse him.
However, plenty of New Hampshire Republicans are very unenthusiastic about calling the Corey Hotline, and former Sen. Judd Gregg even labeled him a “thug” this month. Both Politico and the New York Times reports that Gov. Chris Sununu has warned party leaders that Lewandowski could harm the entire state ticket, including his own re-election campaign. Other state party notables have argued that Lewandowski would have no appeal to anyone who doesn’t already support Trump.
Lewandowski’s intra party detractors also worry that his business dealings could harm the party’s chances against Shaheen. Lewandowski has advised a number of clients with government interests during the Trump era, and he’d need to reveal the extent of those financial arrangements if he ran for the Senate.
Many Republicans also warily remember how Florida police charged Lewandowski with battery in 2016 after he was accused of forcefully grabbing a Brietbart employee named Michelle Fields who attempted to ask Trump a question, an event that was recorded by a security camera. Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg ended up dropping the charge, declaring, “While the evidence in this case is legally sufficient for the police to charge Mr. Lewandowski, it is not strong enough to meet the burden of a reasonable likelihood of a conviction.”
Some Republicans in Trumpword also agree Lewandowski is a liability … which is why they want him to run for the Senate. CNN’s Jeremy Diamond tweeted that some campaign officials hope that, if he’s busy challenging Shaheen, Lewandowski will be too busy to interfere with the Trump’s re-election campaign. However, other White House strategists think that a Lewandowski Senate campaign would be able to help them turn out the conservative voters they need to carry New Hampshire, and that he’d be able to raise a large amount of money from national donors.
Senate Republicans have already shown some favoritism to retired Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, who announced that he would run for this seat in late June. However, while the NRSC held a "Meet and Greet" at their headquarters for Bolduc and the candidate got the chance to sit down with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he might not get much more help from them. An unnamed “top Senate Republican strategist” tells the Associated Press that McConnell and his allies are expected to stay out of the primary.
For his part, Bolduc is trying to argue that he’d be the stronger candidate against Shaheen. Bolduc released a Remington Research Group poll that showed Shaheen leading him 47-42 while she clobbered Lewandowski 50-37. Bolduc’s camp says they didn’t test Shaheen against former state House Speaker Bill O’Brien or attorney Bryant “Corky” Messner, who has formed an exploratory committee but hasn’t committed to running yet.
Bolduc also released some primary numbers, but this portion of his survey had a sample size of just 200, which is below the 300-person minimum that Daily Kos Elections requires in order to write up a poll.
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