Before leaving the country a few weeks ago, I checked the polls to see which of the candidates in the Missouri U.S. Senate primary had the best chance of beating disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens.
My homework done, I proceeded to vote absentee for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. In the waning weeks of the election, many other Missourians made the same decision for much the same reason. What had been a tight race suddenly became a blowout.
Schmitt more than doubled the vote of his nearest challenger, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, and left Greitens behind in third-place dust.
The wild card throughout the election cycle had been the Donald Trump endorsement. Greitens was banking on it. His selection of Trump’s daughter-in-law Kimberly Guilfoyle as co-chair of his campaign would seem to have given him the inside track.
In the weeks leading up to the election, Trump’s continued silence diminished the value of an endorsement should one be forthcoming. His ringing non-endorsement of Hartzler on July 10, however, did shake up the race.
“You can forget about Vicky Hartzler for Senate from the Great State of Missouri,” Trump said on the Truth Social platform.”I was anything but positive in that I don’t think she has what it takes to take on the Radical Left Democrats, together with their partner in the destruction of our Country, the Fake News Media and, of course, the deceptive & foolish RINOS.”
Hartzler deserved better. On May 11, I posted a photo on Facebook of me with Hartzler captioned, “Kudos to Vicky Hartzler. She was one of 57 Republicans to defy the leadership and vote against reckless $40 billion Ukraine aid package.” Apparently, Trump’s sentiments carried more weight than my own. At the time of his put-down, Hartzler was leading in many of the polls.
She did received the plurality of votes in her own district which is something Rep. Billy Long did not manage to do in his. Were Hartzler the candidate best positioned to beat Greitens, I would have voted for her. So would have many others.
Greitens was a mess. A former Democrat and Navy SEAL, he bulldozed the primary opposition in 2016 to win the governorship in this increasingly red state. A Soros-backed DA made his life hell soon after he took office, but it was a hell whose fires Greitens had recklessly stoked.
Kinky sex scandals do not play well with the Republican base. Nor do accusations of spousal abuse by a credible ex-wife. In 2022, the Democrats did all in their power to push Greitens over the finish line. It was not nearly enough.
Trump put the kibosh on Greitens’ hopes on election eve when he posted his most ambiguous message in a career impressively devoid of ambiguity.
“I trust the Great People of Missouri, on this one, to make up their own minds, much as they did when they gave me landslide victories in the 2016 and 2020 Elections, and I am therefore proud to announce that ERIC has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” said Trump.
He added that voters “must send a MAGA Champion and True Warrior to the U.S. Senate, someone who will fight for Border Security, Election Integrity, our Military and Great Veterans, together with having a powerful toughness on Crime and the Border.” Trump called each of the two Erics to share his endorsement.
Trump’s gambit confused almost no one in the Show-Me State, but just about everyone in the major media. “Trump baffles GOP,” read the ABC News headline. Alleged comedian Trevor Noah called it “one of the weirdest endorsements of all time.” The British Independent called the move “sinister.”
“Solomonic” is a more accurate description. By election eve, Trump knew Schmitt was going to win and Greitens was going to lose big. A “winner” like Trump could not endorse a loser like Greitens, yet a family man like Trump could not abandon his daughter-in-law’s candidate.
So he cut the baby in two and called it a win-win. Pure Trump.
Jack Cashill’s other work can be found at cashill.com.
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