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ORLANDO, Florida – In a race where the top Republican candidates are showcasing their support for former President Donald Trump in hopes of winning the former president’s endorsement, former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens touts that “the reason why we’re winning is because we support President Trump.”
Greitens, who left office in 2018 amid a sex scandal and campaign misconduct charges, holds an edge in the most recent public opinion polls over his top rivals for the GOP nomination in the race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt.
Among the other leading contenders in the primary battle are Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Rep. Vicky Hartzler in the 4th Congressional District, in the predominantly rural west-central part of the state, Rep. Billy Long in the 7th Congressional District in southwest Missouri, and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis attorney who along with his wife grabbed national headlines during the summer of 2020 for holding guns outside their home to warn off Black Lives Matter protesters.
THE RACE TO SPOTLIGHT SUPPORT FOR TRUMP IN MISSOURI’S GOP SENATE PRIMARY
“We have the endorsement of the people of Missouri,” Greitens touted in a Fox News Digital interview in Orlando at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the oldest and largest annual gathering of leaders and activists on the right.
Greitens argued on Thursday, “We support a strong border. We support election integrity. One of the other reasons why we’re winning is as the only real America First candidate in this race.”
And highlighting his pledge not to support longtime GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell, a top intra-party Trump rival, the former governor emphasized, “I’ve also been very clear that when I’m in the Senate, I’m going to vote for new America First leadership.”
Greitens came under attack again this week by many of his rivals as they formally filed their campaigns for Senate and pointed to his controversies, questioning whether Democrats could flip what should be a safe GOP-held seat in an increasingly red state if the former governor wins the Senate nomination.
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Greitens pushed back, noting that criminal charges of sexual misconduct were dropped and the former FBI agent who investigated the case was later indicted for perjury and tampering with evidence.
And even though he paid fines for allegedly misusing a veterans’ charity’s donor list for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign, Greitens told Fox News, “After the longest investigation in its history, the Missouri Ethics Commission came out and they said, ‘We found no evidence of any wrongdoing by Eric Greitens.’ So the people of Missouri know I’ve been exonerated.”
Two of Greitens’ rivals landed top endorsements in recent days from two nationally known conservative firebrands.
Asked if his endorsement of Hartzler was out of concern for Greitens’ baggage, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri told Fox News Digital, “My endorsement is not against anybody, but it is absolutely for Congresswoman Hartzler. I think she’s going to win this nomination. She’s going to be a strong Senate candidate. She’s going to win the Senate seat, I think. And the reason is she’s tough, she’s got the character to do this job. She’s a fighter.”
Hawley said “I’m going to work with her. I’m going to help her raise the funds she needs. I’m going to help her on the campaign trail.” Asked if he would support the eventual nominee, regardless of who wins, the senator answered, “I think the nominee’s going to be Vicky and I don’t want to suggest it’s going to be anybody else. But I for sure am going to do everything I can to get a Republican elected in November.”
FIRST ON FOX NEWS: SEN. TED CRUZ ENDORSES ERIC SCHMITT
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is backing Schmitt.
“I endorsed Eric Schmitt because I think he’s the strongest conservative running for Senate in Missouri,” Cruz told Fox News Digital. “I’ve known Eric a long time. He’s attorney general, he’s been a friend, he’s been a leader, he’s been taking on China. He’s been taking on Joe Biden’s weakness on the southern border. He’s been taking on Big Tech.”
Cruz spotlighted that “what I’m looking for in terms of an endorsement for U.S. Senate, it is who is best equipped to go to Washington and be a fighter, fight for the men and women in Missouri, and I think based on his record, Eric Schmitt is by far the strongest conservative candidate in the field. “
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But Greitens downplayed his rivals’ big-name endorsements.
“The math is very clear,” he claimed. “Not only are we dominating the primary, we’re going to win the general election as well.”
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Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/missouri-gop-senate-showdown-greitens-says-real-trump-candidate