President Trump's impact on Indiana's U.S. Senate race
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Could being like Trump help Republicans in Indiana’s U.S. Senate election?
After winning the state by 19 points in the 2016 Presidential Election, it’s hard to imagine the President Donald Trump’s popularity not being a factor in both the primary and general elections.
It’s potentially a winning strategy the GOP candidates in this race are now adopting.
The common denominator in this primary is the desire to win President Trump’s favor.
“My embrace of him is the most sincere,” said candidate Mike Braun. “I said early on, he was the inspiration for me doing it.”
Braun says he’s modeling his senate bid after Trump’s presidential run.
He’s running on his business record while he believes his opponents are promoting their careers in the U.S. House of Representatives.
But candidate Todd Rokita says he’s been a supporter of Trump since he took office.
“We need to have a real, pro-President Trump ally in the senate,” said Rokita.
Like Rokita, candidate Luke Messer says he’s in Congress now to ensure the President’s agenda.
“I’m an authentic conservative who has a record of support President Trump and frankly that’s what most Hoosiers want to see out of their United States Senator,” said Messer.
Rick Klein, ABC News Political Director believes that strategy could pay off next month.
“There’s really no daylight between most of the base voters and President Trump and that’s why you see candidates running as far as they can and quickly as they can to try to embrace Donald Trump in everything that he represents,” said Klein.
Whether it’s following his lead, or carrying around a cut-out of the President, all three candidates are looking to sing the president’s praises to voters while distinguishing themselves from each other.
Rokita implied the endorsements from his opponents might be disingenuous.
In one of his campaign advertisers, he questioned Braun’s party loyalty and Messer’s support of the President.
“Mike Braun is a lifelong Democrat, he voted for Obama or Hillary,” he said in the ad. “And Messer, he plotted with the ‘Never Trumpers’ to steal the nomination from President Trump.”
Braun dismissed those claims saying Rokita supported Marco Rubio’s presidential bid in 2016 and says he also had some disparaging words for Trump.
“it just came out today or recently that he’s on record referring to President Trump as being vulgar and not presidential and basically went that way when he thought politically convenient to do so,” said Baun.
But will any of that matter?
“I think for a Republican Party base, in a primary it does matter because the president is everywhere,” said Klein. “He blots out the sun. He is the biggest political actor by far and he’s going to be pretty active on the campaign trail, we’re told, through the balance of this year.”