“Many, many problems,” replied James. “Everything from cutting the Great Lakes funds to fucking countries to bad dead,” apparently refers to Trump’s belittling of late Senator John McCain. “I mean, where do you want to start?”
“And yes, there will be places where I disagree with the president, and there are only a few,” he added.
James, a 38-year-old Iraq war veteran, also resisted what he described as a democratic topic of conversation, funded by President and Education Minister Betsy DeVos, who comes from one of the state’s richest political families.
(Although James has not received funding from the education secretary, her family has contributed greatly to a Super PAC that supports his candidacy.)
James faces the hurdle of running in Michigan, a swing state where the president’s popularity has waned. A recent Fox News poll found Trump Joe Biden lagging Democratic Senator Gary Peters by 8 percentage points and James 10 percentage points.
The candidate claimed that he had taken a balanced approach to the President and was not afraid to disagree with him. He said he was not focusing his campaign on Trump, although he acknowledged that many would see the race through the president’s prism.
“I realize that it is human not to agree with people, and as I have said a million times, I can agree with the President without adoring him. I can’t agree without attacking him, ”said James.
Trump, James once said, “has his own campaign to run.”
While the president’s polls are falling across the country as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump consultants see Michigan as a particular hotspot. Of all the states the President won in 2016, Michigan will be the hardest to wear again. The Republicans also struggled to recruit candidates for two Michigan seats that the Democrats had flipped in the 2018 midterm elections.
During the 2020 race, James made it clear that he was ready to differ from Trump in certain areas and stressed that he intended to deal with local rather than national issues.
“This race is not about President Trump,” James was quoted at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in September. “This race is about people in the state of Michigan who have failed their leaders for generations. This race is about people who are injured in this state and I will do this race for Michigan.”
Gail Gitcho, a James spokeswoman, said: “John James is ready to have these tough talks with voters. John James is his own husband, and will point out if he agrees with the President and respectfully point out if he disagrees with him. “
Trump has strongly encouraged James tweet last month that James “will be a great senator for Michigan!”
Trump also supported James in his unsuccessful bid for the 2018 Senate. At some point he tweeted a picture from him with James in the Oval Office.
James has publicly touted his support from the White House and recently said that Trump “has done everything he thought best” to deal with the pandemic.
Democrats say they are eager to paint James as a Trump puppet and often highlight his comment during the 2018 race that he is “2,000 percent” on the President’s agenda.
During the conference in late April, James was peppered with a number of skeptical questions about the President. James, who is an African American, was reminded that many in the black community don’t trust Trump. James was asked if he would speak out publicly against the government and work for the needs of African Americans.
James replied that his access to Trump as a Republican senator would benefit African-Americans in the state.
“Look, Donald Trump doesn’t need less black people around him, he needs more,” said James.
He added, “Hopefully through my actions you will see that I am for you, that I am for blacks, and that we share the same fate. And as a result, I hope you will give me the benefit of the doubt.”
James challenged Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) In 2018 and lost 6 percentage points. After that, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell urged James to run again. GOP leaders see Michigan headquarters as one of their best pickup opportunities, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee booked nearly $ 3 million for ads this fall.
Trump’s campaign advisors were less enthusiastic about his second offer. Last year, the President’s political team wrote a memo to the Senate’s GOP campaign arm that a nationwide candidacy from James would further increase democratic energy and engagement and potentially affect Trump’s prospects in the battlefield state. The Trump advisors instead urged James to run for a seat in the house.
Trump’s helpers, who are constantly on the lookout for signs of republican disagreement, are suspicious that James is trying to achieve both.
They were outraged when James, after announcing his Senate offer in June, tweeted“We are going in the wrong direction as a country and our leaders in Washington are not leading us to a better and better future.”