Former President Donald Trump has renewed his endorsement of U.S. Rep. Ted Budd in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race. The president’s comments follow a Politico report last week that he was “starting to have regrets” about backing Budd.
“Ted Budd, who I endorsed many months ago for U.S. Senate, is now leading the pack in North Carolina,” according to a release from Trump Monday night. “He is the true America First fighter who stands tall for the Second Amendment, fights for our great Military and Law Enforcement and has tremendous courage fighting against the Woke Mob who wants to destroy America. I am proud of him, and he is going to win big.”
Trump added that Budd is the only candidate he has endorsed in the race, saying Budd has his “complete and total endorsement.”
The John Locke Foundation’s latest Civitas Poll suggests any change in Trump’s approach to his endorsement could have had a substantial impact on the Republican primary election, scheduled now for May 17. Depending on the ultimate fate of House Bill 605, that election could be delayed to June 7.
Questions about Trump and Budd cropped up in Friday’s edition of the Politico Playbook, in a section dubbed “The Double Dipper.”
“Donald Trump has floated the idea of doling out dual endorsements in some of the key midterm races as he becomes increasingly suspicious of his advisers who are pushing competing candidates,” wrote Tara Palmeri.
“The GOP kingmaker-in-chief has grown so distrustful of all the advice he’s getting from various aides — and so wary of being lured into picking the wrong horse — that he’s floated an idea that would essentially dilute his endorsement,” Palmeri added.
After highlighting concerns about endorsement decisions in Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, Politico reported Trump “was already getting gun-shy about endorsements after feeling burned by several of his early nods.”
Among those “early nods” was Trump’s endorsement of Budd last June. The former president made a surprise announcement of his pick in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race during the state Republican Party convention.
“Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows pressed for Budd, but he’s now struggling in the polls,” Politico reported. The national outlet linked to CJ’s Jan. 13 article detailing the latest results of the Civitas Poll.
“McCrory … leads the primary field with 24% of the vote, compared to 19% for 13th Congressional District Rep. Ted Budd and 7% for former 6th Congressional District Rep. Mark Walker,” CJ reported. “Forty-nine percent of those surveyed were undecided.”
Another piece of the latest Civitas Poll explains why Trump’s endorsement could play such a critical role in the upcoming GOP primary.
“Asked how Trump’s endorsement of a U.S. Senate candidate would impact their vote, 50% of GOP primary voters said they would definitely or probably vote for Trump’s pick, while 37% said they would keep an open mind,” CJ reported.
In a head-to-head matchup between McCrory and Budd, the Civitas Poll showed both candidates securing about a third of the vote, with the final third of likely Republican primary voters remaining undecided.
While the Politico report suggested the possibility of “dual endorsements” in some Senate races, that prospect wasn’t certain.
“Another person close to the former president said he does not expect that Trump will ultimately endorse two candidates in the same race,” Palmeri reported. “More likely is that he will shower praise on multiple candidates or offer them some other form of acknowledgment, such as granting each a visit to Mar-a-Lago to pose for a picture with him.”
Trump already has met at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, with Budd and Walker. The former president urged Walker last year to drop out of the Senate race and run instead for a U.S. House seat. Walker plans to make a public announcement Thursday in Greensboro about his plans for 2022.