(The Hill) – An endorsement by former President Trump in Missouri’s GOP Senate primary triggered confusion Monday after two candidates with the same first name laid claim to his support, which indicated he would be throwing his backing behind “Eric.”
In a statement sent via his Save America PAC, Trump touted the notion of sending “a MAGA Champion and True Warrior to the U.S. Senate,” in a reference to his “Make American Great Again” slogan.
“We need a person who will not back down to the Radical Left Lunatics who are destroying our Country. 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 Total Endorsement!” Trump said.
Both former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt are top contenders in the race, but Trump did not specify which “Eric” he was backing over the other — or if he was supporting both.
The Hill has contacted representatives of Trump for clarification.
Greitens, a loyal supporter of the former president, quickly claimed the endorsement, tweeting: “Honored to have the support of President Trump! We will MAGA!”
Schmitt followed by claiming the endorsement for himself, writing: “It is truly an honor to have President Trump’s endorsement in the Senate race.”
The attorney general said that he is “the only America First candidate in this race,” adding, “I look forward to restoring the America First agenda with you,” a statement apparently aimed at Trump.
“From the beginning, I’ve been the true MAGA Champion fighting against the RINO [Republican in Name Only] establishment backing Schmitt,” Greitens said in a later tweet, emphasizing his belief that Trump had endorsed him.
He continued: “President Trump said it best when he characterized Schmitt’s campaign as ‘great dishonesty in politics.’”
Greitens has come under fire from both Republicans and Democrats after his ex-wife accused him of abusing both her and the couple’s children.
Some of the alleged abuse occurred during Greitens’s tenure as governor, before he resigned due to a sex scandal involving his then-hairdresser.
Both senators of the state have called on Greitens to drop out of the race in the midst of his wife’s allegations, including retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, whom Greitens is running to replace.
A survey conducted last week by Emerson Polling and The Hill found Schmitt in the lead of the GOP candidates in the race with a third of the vote, and Greitens falling behind at 16 percent.
Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler outpaced Greitens in the poll but remained 12 percent behind Schmitt.
Hartzler responded to Trump’s endorsement announcement by seemingly jokingly congratulating Eric McElroy, a much lesser-known GOP Senate candidate in Missouri who is also an author and former congressional candidate.
“Congrats to Eric McElroy. He’s having a big night,” said Hartzler, according to a statement shared by her campaign manager on Twitter. Hartzler has been endorsed by Missouri’s other sitting senator, Republican Josh Hawley.