Hoeven backs Trump, though they don't agree on everything
DICKINSON, N.D.—North Dakota's Republican senator said Wednesday that he is maintaining his support of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
Sen. John Hoeven, following a roundtable with Dickinson business and city leaders, lived up to his promise to support his party's presidential nominee despite being relatively quiet about Trump's candidacy.
"I support Trump as our nominee for the party," Hoeven said. "I don't agree with everything he says, but I agree that he would be better for our state and our country than Secretary Clinton, who would continue the kind of big regulation, big government, big tax approach the current administration has."
Hoeven has long been an opponent of the Obama administration's regulatory policies and said he believes a Hillary Clinton presidency would mean more of the same.
Nonetheless, Hoeven has been tight-lipped about Trump since the New York businessman accepted the Republican nomination for president and was the state's highest-ranking GOP official who didn't attend Trump's speech at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference last May in Bismarck.
Hoeven, who is seeking re-election in November, also responded to criticisms by his opponent, current state Rep. Eliot Glassheim. On Tuesday, the Grand Forks Democrat called for Hoeven to withdraw his support of Trump following what he called the presidential candidate's "demeaning insults" about Kazir Khan, a Muslim-American father of a fallen soldier.
Glassheim said Hoeven should condemn Trump's statements.
"What's more, Sen. Hoeven should explain to North Dakotans precisely why he continues to support Donald Trump while refusing to condemn, distance himself from, or even comment on, Trump's outrageous behavior," Glassheim stated in a release. "If Sen. Hoeven cannot honestly offer such an explanation to voters, he should have the courage to withdraw his support for Trump's candidacy for president."
Hoeven said he's more focused on his own re-election campaign and issues pertaining to North Dakotans than the presidential election.
"I tell the people what I'm about, what I believe in, what I believe can help our state—a positive vision for the future of North Dakota, the vision of our country—and then it's up to them," Hoeven said. "It's an honor to serve North Dakota, but people decide. That's how I've always approached it. That's how I'm approaching it now and as long as I'm in office, that's how I will approach it. That's what's important."
Hoeven did, however, say that "everyone should support Gold Star families," the designation for families who have lost a member during military service in wartime.
The senator added that while he knows Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson well and considers him a friend, he won't be backing his campaign.
Johnson was born in Hoeven's hometown of Minot, and served as New Mexico's governor at the same time as Hoeven was governor of North Dakota.
"He's an interesting guy, a good guy," Hoeven said. "I agree with him on some things but obviously not others. We're good friends and it's always interesting to see what he's going to offer."