President Donald Trump tweeted his endorsement of 3rd District Rep. Erik Paulsen Monday night, but will the congressman thank him for it?
The president is amidst a series of endorsement tweets for various candidates ahead of the Nov. 6 mid-terms, and the president reserved one of them for Paulsen.
"Congressman Erik Paulsen of the Great State of Minnesota has done a fantastic job in cutting Taxes and Job Killing Regulations," he wrote. "Hard working and very smart. Keep Erik in Congress. He has my Strong Endorsement!"
The tweet has arguably come as a surprise given that Paulsen has made efforts to distance himself from his support for the president, as he fights a close battle in Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District against DFLer Dean Phillips.
Paulsen continued this tack on Tuesday, responding to Trump's tweet by telling the Star Tribune: "Rather than endorse my campaign, I wish the President would endorse my position to protect the Boundary Waters, Minnesota’s Yellowstone."
Although he has voted in Congress with Trump's position 97.8 percent of the time, Paulsen didn't join his fellow Minnesota Republican congressmen Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis when the president visited Duluth in June and Rochester earlier this month.
He has also attempted to differentiate himself on a few issues than the president in recent months, arguing that "children shouldn't be used as leverage" as he commented on the forced separation of migrant families at the border.
He's also call for protection of the Boundary Waters, amid efforts by the Trump administration to open more of the area for mining.
His Democratic opponents have pointed out that despite his apparent policy shifts, Paulsen has, during his time in Congress, voted for several repeals of environmental protections and has also voted against a path to legal citizenship for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children (Dreamers).
While Paulsen hasn't commented yet on Trump's endorsement, the Phillips campaign has.
"Donald Trump doesn’t endorse moderates," Phillips' campaign manager Zach Rodvold said. "Congressman Paulsen’s record of voting with the President 98 percent of the time has earned him the Trump seal of approval."
On Monday, Paulsen welcomed a close colleague in Congress, Speaker Paul Ryan, as he paid a visit to Minnesota to attend fundraisers for Paulsen and 2nd District Rep. Jason Lewis.
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