House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump both made last-ditch efforts to bolster Rep. Erik Paulsen’s (R-MN-03) campaign in its final weeks against Democratic challenger Dean Phillips.
Phillips’ energized campaign has attacked Paulsen left and right for being a “rubber-stamp” politician who doesn’t make himself available to his constituents, and it so far seems to be working. According to a recent New York Times poll, Phillips leads the incumbent 51 percent to 42 percent in a district that has been occupied by Republicans since 1961.
Paulsen has been seemingly attempting to distance himself from Trump to convince voters that he’s an independent Congressman, and even skipped Trump’s recent rally in Rochester. But on Monday night, Trump tweeted his “strong endorsement” of Paulsen just two weeks before Election Day.
“Congressman Erik Paulsen of the great state of Minnesota has done a fantastic job in cutting taxes and job killing regulations. Hard working and very smart. Keep Erik in Congress. He has my strong endorsement,” Trump tweeted.
Congressman Erik Paulsen of the Great State of Minnesota has done a fantastic job in cutting Taxes and Job Killing Regulations. Hard working and very smart. Keep Erik in Congress. He has my Strong Endorsement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2018
Phillips responded to the endorsement by tweeting out some of his favorite attacks on Paulsen, who didn’t even seem to acknowledge Trump’s tweet.
“You can run but you can’t hide! Donald Trump found Erik Paulsen last evening and gave him his ‘strong endorsement.’ Translation: thank you for standing shoulder to shoulder and voting with me 98 percent of the time,” Phillips wrote.
You can run but you can’t hide! Donald Trump found @RepErikPaulsen last evening and gave him his “strong endorsement”. Translation: thank you for standing shoulder to shoulder and voting with me 98% of the time. #MN03 #ChangeIsComing https://t.co/YLvmmyWS8w
— Dean Phillips (@deanbphillips) October 23, 2018
Ryan hit the campaign trail with Paulsen Monday, and later stumped for Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN-02), who is also facing a tough Democratic challenger.
Phillips, however, downplayed Ryan’s importance in the election, since he is retiring in January.
“The fact that Ryan’s in town is wonderful for Congressman Paulsen. But Paul Ryan is yesterday,” Phillips said. “He’s not going to be around Jan. 2 no matter who controls the House of Representatives. I’m looking toward the future.”
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