President Trump will hold his first big rally in Tulsa this weekend and sat for a few interviews in the oval office before.
He spoke at length on many topics to different news outlets but saved a special message for Susan Collins and other GOP Senators who are thinking of breaking with Trump.
“If they don’t embrace, they’re going to lose, because, you know, I have a very hard base. I have the strongest base people have ever seen,” said Trump, and the polls back him up on this.
Now, with Republicans fighting to keep their Senate majority, lawmakers running in competitive races are having to decide whether to align themselves with the president or risk his wrath by creating daylight. Trump made clear those who choose the latter will pay a heavy price.
Joined by top aides, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump put Senate Republicans on notice: Running away from him would only trigger a revolt by his loyalists.
“If they don’t embrace, they’re going to lose, because, you know, I have a very hard base. I have the strongest base people have ever seen,” said Trump, who met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week to discuss the party’s prospects in key Senate races.
Trump is keenly aware of how he stacks up against other Republicans on the ballot this fall. At one point during the interview, White House Political Director Brian Jack handed the president a document showing how he had fared better in several primaries this spring than a handful of Republican senators he shared the ballot with in their home states. Included on the chart was North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents up for reelection this November. While Tillis received 78 percent in the state’s March primary, Trump got 94 percent, it noted.
“Wow, that’s great in North Carolina, huh?” Trump remarked as he looked over the sheet.
Senate Republicans have largely remained in lockstep with the president, but there have been a few exceptions.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins, one of the party’s most vulnerable lawmakers, has yet to say whether she backs Trump’s reelection and didn’t appear with him when he visited her home state last week.
Michigan GOP Senate candidate John James recently told black community leaders that he disagreed with Trump on “plenty, plenty of issues.”
During the interview, Trump rattled off a list of senators who lost their seats after separating themselves from him.
He recalled ending the political careers of Tennessee Republican Bob Corker (“So, anyway, I went after him,” he said. “No longer a senator.”) and Arizona Republican Jeff Flake (“He went from 54 percent to 3.”). Nevada Republican Dean Heller “went down” in the general election (“How did it work out for the great senator of Nevada? Not too good.”).
“We will, on occasion, have some senators that want to be cute,” he said. “And they don’t want to embrace their president.”