President Trump endorsed New Jersey GOP Senate candidate Bob Hugin Tuesday, in an 11th-hour effort to drive Republican voters to the polls in key states.
“Bob Hugin, successful all of his life, would be a Great Senator from New Jersey. He has my complete and total Endorsement! Get out and Vote for Bob,” Trump tweeted Tuesday afternoon.
The president, who has made a slew of endorsements in gubernatorial, congressional and Senate races, had yet to endorse the Republican candidate from New Jersey, who is in an uphill fight against incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez.
It’s not clear whether Hugin even welcomes the presidential support. The wealthy pharmaceutical executive has sought to distance himself from Trump throughout his campaign. In a recent interview, he would not say whether he wants Trump’s backing.
The political makeup of the state likely contributes to Hugin’s stance. New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the Senate in 46 years; Hugin has vowed to “deliver for the people of New Jersey,” calling himself a “Jersey guy.”
“I’m somebody they can trust,” Hugin told Fox News last month. “They are tired of the partisanship that’s gone on, and New Jersey has been the center of that partisanship. Senator Menendez has been one of the partisan Democrats in the Senate. It’s time for a change.”
Hugin’s campaign outspent Menendez 3-1, with the majority of the funds going toward brutal anti-Menendez TV ads, reviving salacious allegations that the Democratic senator had sex with underage prostitutes during past trips to the Dominican Republic. Menendez has long denied the allegations as a smear since they first surfaced on a news site in 2012.
Trump has crisscrossed the country in the weeks leading up to Election Day, hosting “Make America Great Again” rallies to campaign for Republicans in an effort to maintain the majority in the House and Senate, and pick up or hold some governor’s mansions along the way. Trump finished with a spree of three rallies on Monday. On Tuesday, he plans to watch returns at the White House.
“After 11 rallies in 8 states and weeks of campaigning for Republican candidates, the President will spend today making phone calls, monitoring Congressional, Senate and Gubernatorial races across the country and meeting with his political team for real-time updates,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
“Later this evening, the President and First Lady have invited family and friends to join them in the residence as they watch election returns.”
Trump has held 26 rallies since October, embracing Democrats’ attempts to make the election a referendum on his agenda. The president has urged supporters to “pretend” he was on the ballot.
Also Tuesday, the president tweeted a link to polling locations, sponsored by the Republican National Committee.
Fox News’ Alex Pappas contributed to this report.