Republicans in competitive primaries have been racing all year to bear-hug President Trump, but on Wednesday we reached a new level of obsequiousness.
Five of the eight House Republicans who are running for Senate this year sent an open letter nominating Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize on Wednesday. That means nearly one third of the 18 members who signed the letter are hoping to win a seat in Congress’ upper chamber.
The effort is led by Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN), a Senate candidate who’s been calling for weeks for Trump to get the prize for his work pushing for a denuclearized North Korea. Messer’s facing a tough primary against fellow Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) and businessman Mike Braun (R). Senate candidates who joined Messer on the letter include Reps. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Jim Renacci (R-OH) and Evan Jenkins (R-WV), as well as Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), who’s running for governor.
The signees write that they can “think of no one more deserving of the committee’s work in 2019 than President Trump for his tireless work to bring peace to our world.”
Setting aside whether Trump deserves it (or whether the prospect’s any sillier than President Obama actually winning the prize early in his own presidency), it’s notable that so many statewide candidates were on the list. And it shows that to win primaries in today’s Republican Party, candidates are going to new lengths to kowtow to the president.
Not to be outdone, Rokita released a new ad of his own on Wednesday promising to stop Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “witch hunt” investigation into the possibility that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election, while accusing his opponents of not being loyal enough to the president.
The only Senate candidates not on Messer’s letter are Rokita, who Messer undoubtedly didn’t invite to join him, and Reps. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Lou Barletta (R-PA). Barletta is a close ally of Trump’s and one of his earliest House backers, and McSally, a one-time fierce Trump critic, has sought to embrace the president as she looks to ward off a pair of right-wing challengers in her own race.