Inside the wild Bedminster lobbying spree that led to Trump’s double Missouri endorsement

It marked the end of the chaotic seven hours in the world of Trump, the former president’s future daughter-in-law, his elected Republican National Committee chair, the junior senator from Missouri and a host of other party activists and Trump aides. Said about must support in the turbulent Missouri Senate primary, where polling places were set to open less than 24 hours later.

Trump began a private lobbying spree on Monday morning when he posted on social media that he would make his endorsement official that day – without mentioning that he apparently had not yet made his final choice. What happened during the afternoon reflects the chaotic nature of Trump’s support process. While much-anticipated endorsement is one of Trump’s greatest assets and his main political weapon, how he decides who gets what is often more improvised than scripted.

In this case, many Republican officials feared that the wrong decision could come with dire consequences for the party. The former governor had resigned from his post in 2018 after accusing his barber of sexual harassment. And his ex-wife has accused him of assaulting her and their younger son in 2018. Grittens has vehemently denied the allegations, but his position in the Missouri GOP Senate primary has slipped amid a wave of ads centered on those allegations.

At the center of Monday’s episode, according to several people familiar with what happened, was Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancée Kimberly Gilfoy, who, making the case for Greetens over the weekend, attended a golf tournament that Trump hosted in his Bedminster, NJ. was held in the club.

Shortly after noon, Trump was holding a previously scheduled meeting with RNC President Ronna McDaniel, where the Missouri race became a topic of discussion. During the sit-down, Trump called Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a Greetens foe who referenced a recent poll that showed the former governor behind in the primary.

After being told that Guilfoyle was at Bedminster’s property, Trump asked him to call the meeting.

By the time Guilfoyle entered the room, Holly was not in line. McDaniel, who, like other senior Republicans, tried to stop Trump from endorsing Grettens for fear that he might lose the seat to Democrats in the general election and that his nomination would force Republicans to spend money in that state. The one who should be safe for the party remained in the meeting. She also argued that late support would do little to change the race, with Grittens lagging third in most polls, and that it makes more sense for Trump to remain neutral.

Gilfoy was firm in defending the former governor, saying the party establishment was trying to antagonize Greetens to Trump. Meanwhile, McDaniel reiterates his argument that Grittens would give his personal belongings for a weak nominee.

As the meeting progressed, Trump began to lose patience, said people familiar with what happened. At one point it was suggested that he might support “Eric” and that in doing so he would support both Schmidt and Grettens.

It was a crazy exit ramp. But Trump went into details, asking whether the two candidates’ first names were spelled identically — noting that it wouldn’t work if they weren’t. While Trump was concerned, he also commented that it might be too sweet. He asked for the draft’s support for review, with one declaring his support for Schmidt, the other for Grittens.

At this point, it was still unclear whether Trump would support his self-imposed daytime deadline, underscoring the rolling, unpredictable nature of how the former president exercises his power. As he has done in other races, Trump reached out to a series of figures Monday for his views. The list included Republican pollsters John McLaughlin and Robert Cahely, both of whom have conducted polls on race. He was given notes from longtime Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio, who worked for Greetens.

Trump later asked aides Pam Bondi and Matthew Whitaker, who are both backing Schmidt, for their views. At another point, he surveyed Chris Cox, founder of the “Bikers for Trump” coalition, who was also on the Bedminster property. Cox excused himself from the office so he could read about those in his organization. Upon re-entering office, he informed Trump that his crowd was aligned with Greetens.

But Trump veered back on the idea of ​​endorsing the two Erics, arguing that both had their pluses and minuses, and that in doing so gave each an opportunity to win with their support. He drafted a statement that would be out soon.

“I trust the great people of Missouri, on this, to make up my mind,” it read, “as much as they did when they led me to spectacular victories in the 2016 and 2020 elections, and so I am proud to announce that ERIC has my full and complete support!”

The announcement dramatized a nearly year-long battle to support Trump. While party leaders cautioned Trump against backing Grettens, some of the most prominent members of the MAGA movement — including Guilfoyle, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and Trump adviser Boris Epshtein — voiced their support for him. Grittens became a regular guest on the popular podcast “War Room,” hosted by former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon.

People familiar with Trump’s thinking say concerns about Grettens’ past controversies weighed on his decision not to offer Grittens’ full support. At one point on Monday, he said, Trump pointed out that Greetens could face Trudy Bush Valentine, a wealthy Democratic nominee, in the general election. Busch is the successor to the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Fortune.

“That’s not the vulnerable Bush family,” Trump said, referring to his long-running feud with members of the Bush political dynasty. “That’s the strong Bush family.”

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