Republican North Carolina U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis said it’s too early to make an endorsement in the GOP primary for president, stopping short of throwing his backing behind former President Donald Trump, who announced Nov. 15 a bid for a second term in the White House.
“We’ve seen a number of people in the Republican Party emerge as leaders. Maybe you should take the time to see who will come out and build a message that we think resonates best with the American people,” Tillis said in a virtual press conference with reporters on Nov. 17.
“I think President Trump should know there are a lot of people in Congress who enjoyed and are proud of the legislative accomplishments that we had in his tenure in the White House,” Tillis added. “But we also need to look ahead. The world changes dramatically from year to year. We need to look at the Republican leaders who are going to stand up and build a case for the American people.”
Tillis emphasized that Republicans should be focused on winning the Dec. 6 runoff election for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. The outcome of that runoff will determine whether Democrats have a 51-to-49 seat majority in the Senate or if the chamber remains split at 50 seats apiece.
Trump is the only Republican to officially announce for president, although the list of potential contenders is long. It includes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
During the call with reporters, Tillis was also asked to explain why Republicans performed so well in North Carolina during the midterm election while underperforming nationally.
“It’s because we focused on the things that people in North Carolina want us to focus on — the economy, crime, education. That resonated, and in other states may very well may be that they went to the voters with maybe a different set of priorities that didn’t resonate,” Tillis said.