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Trump called Blankenship after Senate primary loss: report

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© Provided by The Hill

By Mary Tyler March, The Hill

President Trump called ex-coal executive Don Blankenship on Wednesday, one day after Blankenship lost the GOP Senate nomination in West Virginia's, according to Politico.

Three unnamed sources described the brief call to Politico as "straightforward, polite and cordial," with Trump offering praise for Blankenship's campaign.

The Hill has reached out to Blankenship's office for comment.

Despite aligning himself closely with the president, Blankenship's campaign took a hit the day before the West Virginia primary when Trump urged voters to reject his candidacy.

"To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference," Trump tweeted on Monday. "Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can't win the General Election in your State...No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!"

Echoing similar concerns from Republicans, the president reasoned that Blankenship wouldn't be able to defeat Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in November's general election.

The GOP sees West Virginia - a state that Trump carried by more than 40 percentage points in the election - as a prime opportunity to help widen their narrow 51-seat majority. And the party believes West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is the candidate who could topple a potentially vulnerable Manchin.

Blankenship, who finished third on Tuesday, said Trump's call for voters to reject him likely cost him the nomination.

"If there was any single factor, based on the polling of different times...it was probably President Trump's lack of endorsement...I don't know what else it would have been unless the polls were way off," he said in his concession speech Tuesday night.

In the final days of the campaign, national Republicans, anxious about a repeat of last year's Alabama special election in which conservative firebrand Roy Moore won the Senate nomination only to be defeated in a huge upset by Democrat Doug Jones, unleashed a host of last-ditch efforts to quash Blankenship's candidacy.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who backed Morrisey, called Blankenship an "outlier" and "not on the [Republican] spectrum" during a campaign stop in West Virginia. Meanwhile, groups aligned with the GOP and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) - whom Blankenship attacked repeatedly throughout his campaign - released comments and video condemning the candidate.

"Evan Jenkins and Patrick Morrisey are the true conservatives. Don't vote Don Blankenship," warned one video released by Mountain Families PAC, an Arlington, Va.-based super PAC that spent more than $1.3 million running online and TV ads against Blankenship.

Blankenship took a parting shot at Trump on Wednesday, claiming the president had spread "fake news" against him.

"You, yourself, also spread fake news against me. Your interference in the West Virginia election displayed a lack of understanding of the likely outcome of the upcoming general election," Blankenship wrote in an open letter to Trump. "Patrick Morrisey will likely lose the general election. It's too late to change that, but it's not helpful to do to me what others are doing to you."

Blankenship closed the letter stating that he looked forward to meeting Trump "in the near future."

Politico reported that Trump also reached out to Republican challenger Rep. Evan Jenkins, who finished second to Morrisey, but has yet to connected with Morrisey himself.

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Politics - U.S. Daily News: Trump called Blankenship after Senate primary loss: report
Trump called Blankenship after Senate primary loss: report
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