President Donald Trump said that Republican challengers to Mitch McConnell allies in the Senate had “scattered” after anti-establishment Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore was defeated by a Democrat in Alabama.
“I don’t see that happening at this moment, no,” Trump said when asked about possibly campaigning for Republican primary challengers. “I think they’ve sort of scattered.”
Trump made his remarks in a press conference at Camp David, after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. He said he would campaign with existing Senate Republicans to help Republicans keep the majority as well as “anybody else that has my kind of thinking.”
Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon vowed a grassroots movement to challenge every Republican senator up for re-election (except for Ted Cruz) in response to McConnell’s inaction in the Senate.
In response, some anti-Trump Senate Republicans like Jeff Flake and Bob Corker announced their plans to retire, rather than face a Republican challenger. Despite working well with Trump, longtime Senator Sen. Orrin Hatch retired in Utah sparking interest from former failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney in running to replace him.
But some incumbent challengers still exist. Danny Tarkanian is challenging Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada, State Senator Chris McDaniel is weighing a challenge against Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, both Erik Prince and Foster Friess stated interest in challenging Sen. John Barrasso in Wyoming. A Republican challenger has yet to challenge Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska.
But Trump lamented the loss of a Republican Senate seat in Alabama, pointing it out as a warning to prospective Republican challengers of existing Senators.
“I think, as far as I’m concerned, that was a shame that that was lost. That should never have been lost,” he said.
Trump als0 appeared cautious about possible challenges to Republican Senate incumbents in the future.
“Look, with it all being said, we have the right policy, we have the right everything. You still need a good candidate,” he said. “You don’t have a good candidate, you’re just not going to win.”