President Donald Trump referred to Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley as “our next senator” Wednesday, a nod that could help Hawley garner support from Trump voters in the Show Me State.
Trump noted Hawley favored the evolving GOP tax bill, while Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is against the plan, noting that its benefits fall mostly to corporations and the wealthy at the expense of middle-class and lower-class families.
McCaskill is one of the most vulnerable senators running for re-election in 2018. Trump won Missouri by 19 points in 2016.
Senior administration officials said on a Tuesday night conference call with reporters that a reference to Hawley was not in the draft of the speech.
Trump did reference McCaskill in his speech. He told the crowd in St. Charles, Mo., that McCaskill wants to raise their taxes.
“That’s not good,” he said. “She wants your taxes to go up.”
Trump also called McCaskill "weak" on crime, the southern border, illegal immigration and military issues.
Hawley did not attend Trump’s speech when he spoke in Springfield, Mo., in August, due to a family vacation. But his absence sparked some criticism from conservatives in the Show-Me State.
One of Hawley’s top supporters, former GOP Sen. Jack Danforth, had called on Republicans to disavow Trump shortly before Trump’s August visit in a Washington Post op-ed.
Danforth publicly pushed Hawley to run for Senate.
A handful of other Republicans are also vying for the GOP nomination in the Senate race.
Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Missouri Senate race as a Toss-Up.