No. 2 Senate Republican endorses Trump for president

No. 2 Senate Republican endorses Trump for president
No. 2 Senate Republican endorses Trump for president

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Sen. John Thune listens during a news conference after at the US Capitol on February 6, 2024.

CNN

GOP Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, is endorsing former President Donald Trump as the party’s nominee, his office confirmed to CNN.

The backing from the South Dakota Republican, who has been critical of Trump, is the latest indication of the former president’s grip on the party as he barrels towards the nomination. Coming on the heels of Trump’s win in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, it’s particularly notable given Thune’s vocal skepticism about the former president’s strength as a general election candidate and the role Thune plays in the establishment wing of the party.

Thune and Trump spoke on the phone Saturday night after the primary was called, and the senator told Trump he would be endorsing him, a source familiar told CNN.

Fox News was the first to report on the endorsement.

Thune, who is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s top deputy and is seen as a potential successor to the Kentucky Republican, had backed Sen. Tim Scott for president before the South Carolina senator dropped out of the race in November.

Thune said last month he’d support the eventual GOP nominee, but his endorsement comes despite misgivings from some in the party about how the former president may impact down-ballot races as the GOP seeks to regain the Senate.

Thune told CNN last month, “I’ve always been worried” about Trump’s viability as a general election candidate.

“General elections are won in the middle of the electorate,” he said at the time. “All that has repercussions for Senate races, too. If we want to get the majority, we need a strong showing at the top of the ticket that translates into some down-ballot success.”

While House GOP leadership has rallied around Trump, Senate Republicans have been slower to do so. McConnell has not spoken to Trump in more than three years and tries to avoid uttering his name in public, CNN reported last month.

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the third-ranking member of Senate GOP leadership, backed Trump just before the Iowa caucuses.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn – another possible future leader who tends to stay out of contested primaries – backed Trump after his New Hampshire victory, even as he raised concerns about the former president’s electability in a general election.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

Kristen Holmes contributed to this report.

The article is in Marathi

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