Charlotte Republican Robert Pittenger has gone all in on the Trump Train, but is the feeling mutual? Pittenger, who is running for re-election to Congress in the 9th District and has a primary on Tuesday, sent out emails this morning touting an endorsement from Donald Trump.
But the endorsement came from a Twitter account called @TeamTrumpNC. A spokesman for one of Pittenger’s opponents, Mark Harris, says that’s just a supporter of Trump, not affiliated with the Trump campaign, and that Trump himself has not endorsed Pittenger.
Pittenger’s camp, though, says the Trump endorsement has been confirmed by Scott Mason, Trump’s liaison to Congress. Trump’s N.C. director declined to comment to the Observer.
Harris spokesman Mark Knoop alleges Pittenger has a pattern of fudging endorsements. Pittenger’s website currently claims an endorsement from former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee even though Huckabee issued a statement Sunday saying he supports Harris, not Pittenger. In fact, Pittenger provides a link to the supposed Huckabee endorsement but the link goes to a Huckabee endorsement of Harris.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Huckabee’s statement said Pittenger is using a Huckabee endorsement from four years ago and that Huckabee had explicitly told the Pittenger camp it could not be used this year because he supports Harris. Late today, the Pittenger campaign said it didn’t realize the Huckabee endorsement was still up and it was supposed to have been taken down. Instead of taking it down, though, the Pittenger campaign added a 2013 date to it and left it up.
The Pittenger campaign also listed state Rep. Dan Bishop as a supporter and took that down after Bishop, who has endorsed Harris, complained, Knoop said.
Whether Trump himself has endorsed Pittenger or not, Pittenger clearly wants to align himself with Trump. Harris and a third candidate, Todd Johnson, also say they support Trump. Which raises a few questions for all three of them.
Do you agree with Trump that Muslim judges and judges of Hispanic heritage are incapable of giving Trump (and regular people) a fair hearing in court?
Do you agree that Muslims should be banned from entering the United States?
Do you agree that Mexico sends rapists to the United States?
Do you believe Mexico will pay to build a wall?
Do you also believe thousands of Muslims cheered in New Jersey when the World Trade Center fell on 9/11?
Do you approve of Trump’s misogynistic comments?
Would you vote in Congress to appropriate money to a Trump effort to deport 11 million immigrants who are here illegally?
Do you agree that America should kill the innocent family members of suspected terrorists?
Brian Walsh, a Republican strategist, tweeted Sunday: “I don’t care if he’s the nominee – Republicans should loudly condemn this racist, nonsensical rhetoric by Trump.” We haven’t heard 9th District candidates do that.
The Washington Post reports that GOP operative Rick Wilson wrote a column this weekend warning candidates like Pittenger about getting too close to Trump. “You own his politics. You own his policies, even the ones that only last as long as the next contradiction. You own the racial animus that started out as a bug, became a feature and is now the defining characteristic of his campaign. You own every crazy, vile chunk of word vomit that spews from his mouth,” Wilson wrote.
Pittenger has clearly calculated that embracing Trump is the best way to win Tuesday’s primary. Voters should demand to know what Pittenger’s promised “unity” with Trump includes. -- Taylor Batten