President Donald Trump's Friday tweet threatening to veto the $1.3 trillion spending bill has intensified a battle already being waged in key Republican Senate primaries over the measure.
In three states -- Arizona, West Virginia and Indiana -- right-wing candidates had already staked out their opposition to the bill. But Trump's tweet has given them a new opening to cast their opponents -- all House members who voted for the bill -- as being on the wrong side of the Trump agenda.
In West Virginia, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who along with former coal baron Don Blankenship is running against Rep. Evan Jenkins in a May Senate primary, said Trump should veto the bill.
"Let's hope that @realDonaldTrump vetoes the terrible omnibus bill. Congress & Evan Jenkins caved on the wall, paved the way for more gun control, and give money to Planned Parenthood. Jenkins is a liberal. Only one proven and credible conservative running!" he tweeted Friday morning.
In Arizona, state Sen. Kelli Ward had already blasted Rep. Martha McSally for her vote, tweeting Thursday night: "Want to know the difference between me and my opponent @RepMcSally? Try her vote today in favor of a $1.3 trillion-dollar spending bill that doesn't include funding for a new #BorderWall but continues to fund #SanctuaryCities."
Friday morning, she retweeted Trump, thanking him and saying she was "working hard so you have a conservative" from Arizona to help his agenda.
In Indiana, Rep. Todd Rokita -- who voted against the bill, calling it "the Washington swamp at its worst" -- retweeted Trump, signaling that he intended to use the issue against Rep. Luke Messer, a leading primary foe who voted for it.
Later, he tweeted his criticism of the bill, saying it "did not include the priorities" of Trump and Hoosiers.
In Ohio as well, Mike Gibbons, a Republican running in the Senate primary against Rep. Jim Renacci, is hitting Renacci on the spending bill -- even though Renacci voted against it. Gibbons' argument is that Renacci, as a House Budget Committee member, is responsible for the product.
"The budget bill that just passed spends money we don't have, fails to fund the wall, but does fund Planned Parenthood. Jim Renacci can't hide his failure and ineffectiveness behind a 'no' vote on the floor," Gibbons said. "If he can't get the job done in the House, how can he ask us to vote for him for the Senate?"
Gibbons on Friday morning retweeted Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who tweeted: "I agree @realDonaldTrump should veto this sad excuse for legislation because it's $1.3 trillion in spending that (almost) no one read."
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