Former President Donald Trump hedged his endorsement in the Republican primary for the US Senate in Missouri, giving his support to “ERIC,” without specifying which one — the scandal-plagued former governor or the state attorney general who appears to be leading in the polls.
After a day of speculation among political operatives in Missouri and Washington, DC, that Trump was poised to endorse either former Gov. Eric Greitens or Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Trump chose both in a statement shortly after 5 pm
The split decision came a little more than 12 hours before polls open — and set Trump up to claim credit if either candidate wins Tuesday.
Trump said he wanted a candidate who will fight for border security “election integrity, the military and military veterans.
“We need a person who will not back down to the Radical Left Lunatics who are destroying our Country,” Trump wrote. “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 Full Endorsement!”
While the endorsement had been widely anticipated by Republicans, it is unlikely that Trump’s coy statement will have a substantial impact on the eve of the tight race, where he appeared unwilling to put his full weight behind any candidate.
Last month, Trump knee-capped US Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who has consistently polled as one of the top three candidates in the race, saying he would not be giving her the endorsement because he didn’t feel that she “had what it takes to take on the Radical Left Democrats.”
In March, Trump praised US Rep. Billy Long, but stopped short of endorsing him. Long never broke into the top tier of candidates in polling.
Both Erics immediately moved to seize on Trump’s statement. Greitens posted a graphic to Twitter saying the former president had endorsed him. Soon after, Schmitt released a statement saying it was “truly an honor” to have Trump’s endorsement and calling himself the only “America First” candidate in the race.
“He was smart for saying Eric. It was ingenious. That’s Trump!” said Rene Artman, chair of the Republican Central Committee of St. Louis County.
Polling in the race’s final weeks showed Schmitt gaining in the race, with several surveys showing him leading. Meanwhile, recent polls showed Greitens in third.
Greitens has come under withering attack over past allegations of sexual assault and blackmail, which led him to resign as governor in 2018, as well as allegations by his ex-wife that he was physically and emotionally abusive toward her and their young children.
The split endorsement comes after Trump indicated he was upset by a poll conducted by Remington Research Group, a firm founded by Schmitt’s campaign consultant, Jeff Roe, that showed Schmitt winning the race with 34% of the vote. The poll also looked at the 2024 Republican presidential primary and had Trump with 42% of the vote, ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who had 18%.
After Breitbart, which has written favorably about Greitens throughout the campaign, said the poll was “fake” and underestimated Trump’s support in the state, Trump posted the outlet’s article on his site Truth Social, decrying “dishonesty in politics.”
This is a breaking story and will be updated
This story was originally published August 1, 2022 5:21 PM.