Port: Donald Trump endorsed John Hoeven because Rick Becker is a loser

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Trump needed Hoeven more than Hoeven needed Trump.

Former U.S. President Trump holds rally in Florence, South Carolina
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Florence Regional Airport in Florence, South Carolina, on March 12, 2022.
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MINOT, N.D. — In a better sort of world, Donald Trump's endorsements would matter not a whit to anyone running for elected office.

Sadly, we don't live in that world. We live in this one. So they matter. But maybe not as much as they used to.

Trump has endorsed incumbent Sen. John Hoeven in the NDGOP's primary, despite his opponent, Rick Becker, the supposed "libertarian" saying all the right things about putting Anthony Fauci in jail, siccing the police state on the "deep state," and keeping the 2020 election conspiracy theories alive , etc., etc.

If Donald Trump were leading a principled political movement (however obnoxious we may find his "principles") and not a cult of personality he would have endorsed Becker who has shouted all the right Trump-aligned things on the campaign trail.

But he's not, so he didn't.


To Trump, the only thing that really matters is winning, and in North Dakota, that means betting on Hoeven.

Don't believe me? Cast your gaze on Mo Brooks, a Trump toadying sad sack who had the disgraced former president's endorsement in Alabama's GOP Senate primary until just recently .

Somehow, Trump-aligned "conservatives" went full circle, from prudent skeptics of authoritarianism to its footsoldiers, Rob Port writes.

Brooks has been the Trumpiest of Trumpkins (I use that term with apologies to the C.S. Lewis character ), even appearing on stage, during Trump's now-infamous Jan. 6, 2021, rally, in body armor .

But Trump has cast aside this sycophant. “Mo Brooks of Alabama made a horrible mistake recently when he went ‘woke’ and stated, referring to the 2020 Presidential Election Scam, ‘Put that behind you, put that behind you,’ despite the fact that the Election was rife with fraud …” Trump explained in his announcement disavowing Brooks.

That's malarkey. The "recent" comments Trump is referring to happened in August . What has happened recently is that Brooks has slipped to "distant third" in the polling .

It wasn't that Brooks lost his principles, even if those "principles" were regurgitating Trump's pathetic claims about 2020 election fraud. It was that Brooks was losing.

And Trump couldn't be seen backing a loser.

"If Trump can't lean on his ability to put candidates over the top against his enemies in key races, then what does he have left to keep Republicans in line?" is what I wrote when Trump first announced his endorsement of Hoeven .


That remains as true as ever.

Trump holds sway over Republican elected leaders through fear. They believe that his word, his endorsements or shuns, can make or break a campaign. But that influence is, increasingly, a Potemkin village. An illusion that Trump must furiously cultivate to maintain, even to the point of making the humiliating and blatantly self-serving decision to turn his back on a loyal toady like Mo Brooks.

As far as North Dakota's race is concerned, I've said it before and I'll say it again: Trump needed Hoeven more than Hoeven needed Trump.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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