Trump boosts Heller's re-election bid

President Donald Trump traveled to Nevada, where he advocated for Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), perhaps the nation's most vulnerable Republican in November's midterms.

Posted: Jun 25, 2018 6:53 AM
Updated: Jun 25, 2018 7:07 AM

In a visit to boost one of the nation's most vulnerable Republican senators ahead of this fall's November election, President Donald Trump unveiled a new nickname for the Democrat running to unseat Sen. Dean Heller.

"Wacky Jacky," Trump said at the Nevada GOP convention, in reference to Rep. Jacky Rosen. "You don't want her as your senator."

Trump's short Saturday swing through Las Vegas was aimed largely at bolstering Heller, who is running for re-election in a state Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Just before his speech to the state GOP, he held a backstage fundraiser for Heller.

During the speech, Trump listed off several of his administration's accomplishments, notably the passage of tax cuts and repealing the individual mandate under Obamacare.

As controversy still rages over his administration's handling of immigrant families at the Southern border, Trump said he sees the issue as immigration as a winner for Republicans in the midterms.

"I think I got elected largely because we are strong on the border," Trump said.

Of undocumented immigrants, he said, "if they see any weakness, they will come by the millions."

Trump also noted that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a potential 2020 challenger, was in the state Saturday speaking at the state Democratic convention, again using the "Pocahontas" slur to describe the Massachusetts Democrat.

"Wacky Jacky is campaigning with Pocahontas, you believe this? In your state! Can you believe this?" Trump said at the Nevada GOP convention. "When you see that, that's not the senator you want."

The President also mocked calls for an apology for using the term.

"To the memory of Pocahontas, I apologize," he said.

Rosen called Trump's Nevada trip Heller's reward for backing Trump's agenda.

"The President is attacking me with lies and petty insults because I'm not afraid to stand up to him," Rosen said in a statement. "Dean Heller has been a rubber stamp for Donald Trump in Washington, caving to the President's divisive agenda at Nevada's expense. This was Senator Heller's reward for his loyalty."

After the speech, Trump was headed to a roundtable with Heller, gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt, labor secretary Alex Acosta and local business leaders focused on the GOP's tax bill, for which Heller claimed credit.

The trip shows the extent to which Trump and Heller have repaired their relationship.

Heller was a Trump critic during the 2016 election. Last summer, he famously stood with Brian Sandoval, Nevada's popular outgoing moderate Republican governor, and declared his opposition to Trump's bill repealing parts of Obamacare.

The two broke the ice on an October flight to Las Vegas after the mass shooting there. Heller, meanwhile, has been a staunch advocate for Trump's other policies -- particularly tax reform.

Trump prodded Heller -- who famously helped tank Trump's effort to repeal Obamacare last summer -- saying his re-election bid was "a little bit shaky at the beginning."

That was, in part, because of the presence of conservative challenger Danny Tarkanian in the race.

At the urging of Trump and Trump's 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale, Tarkanian dropped out of that campaign to run for the 3rd District House seat instead.

"He's a great team player, Danny. He's a really great team player. And Dean and myself, we really appreciate what he did," Trump said of Tarkanian.

During the speech, President also returned to his familiar criticism of Arizona Sen. John McCain, saying "a little early-morning surprise by one of our own" -- referring to McCain's dramatic thumbs-down vote on an Obamacare repeal bill -- tanked the effort to undo former President Barack Obama's signature legislation.

Since then, the tax bill repealed Obamacare's individual mandate, and the Trump administration is rolling back the law's other protections.

"We've essentially gutted it anyway," Trump said.

Trump repeatedly claimed that electing Rosen to the Senate amounts to backing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

He promised to return to the state to campaign for Heller, Laxalt and Tarkanian.

"I will be back a lot because we're going to be fighting real hard for Danny, and for Adam, and for Dean," Trump said.

At one point, after jabbing at "Wacky Jacky and Pocahontas," Trump claimed that Rosen and Warren "don't know how to say Nevada." The two say "Nev-ah-da," a pet peeve for the state's residents, rather than the correct "Nev-AD-a," Trump claimed.

However, as he finished his speech, it was Trump who made the mistake.

"Thank you very much, Nevada," he said -- pronouncing it "Nev-ah-da."

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