After Public Praise for Diane Black, Trump Embraces Bill Lee

Tennessee Republican’s gubernatorial campaign touted support of the president

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., talks with reporters outside a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol last year. She will not be Tennessee’s next governor after losing her primary Thursday night. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump, who previously praised Rep. Diane Black, essentially cast her aside Friday after she lost a Republican gubernatorial primary in Tennessee.

Though the president never officially endorsed her, he did mention her — and not Bill Lee, the eventual victor — during a May 31 rally in Nashville.

“She’s in a big race. Good luck, Diane,” he said.

A section of her campaign website once read, “Donald Trump backs Diane Black — do you?” The Tennessean reported. (The page has since been taken down.)

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Trump has also praised Black on Twitter for her work as House Budget chairwoman, calling her “highly respected” and saying she “did a GREAT job in passing Budget, setting up big Tax Cuts.”

Vice President Mike Pence, however, did endorse Black. And her campaign ran ads touting what it described as Trump’s support. One featured a clip from a White House meeting with GOP lawmakers in which Trump said, “I called Diane Black, and you came through, Diane.”

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But just hours after she lost to Lee, Trump shifted his public praise to the state’s GOP nominee for governor.

“He ran a great campaign and now will finish off the job in November,” the president tweeted, adding that the businessman “has my total and enthusiastic Endorsement!”

Black’s loss suggests that in some states merely touting one’s ties to and praise from Trump might not be enough to propel a GOP candidate to victory without the president getting involved in those races.

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