By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Former President Donald Trump was not bothered by the billboards bringing up past criticism of him by Harriet Hageman, the congressional candidate who now has endorsement, he said in a radio interview Wednesday.
Trump spoke with “Wake Up Wyoming” host Glenn Woods on Wednesday, addressing a variety of topics during a nearly 14-minute interview, from Hageman and her opponent, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, to energy and his time in office.
Trump excused the Hageman comments posted on a billboard on the outskirts of Casper in advance of his appearance there at a rally on Saturday.
The comments were made before Hageman knew him, Trump said.
“When you go back to 2016, nobody knew me and at the time, she never met me and I never met her,” Trump said. “If I went by that standard, I could never endorse anybody.”
The billboards were placed there by Cheney campaign. One references a quote Hagemen gave to the New York Times in 2016, when she called Trump “the weakest” candidate in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, as well as labeling him “racist and xenophobic.”
Trump noted similar remarks were made by author and Ohio congressional candidate J.D. Vance, who Trump also endorsed. Vance recently won the Republican primary in Ohio and will face off in the general election against Democrat U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, who has held the seat since 2013.
Trump said that Hageman stood out to him as the congressional candidate to support because of the uproar he heard from Wyoming citizens about her.
“I just felt that she was really good,” he said. “I had people in Wyoming…pushing much harder for her than anybody else and I have to let that play a role. Her campaign is very strong.”
Hageman announced her campaign against Cheney last fall, with Trump’s endorsement following almost immediately after.
Other candidates for Wyoming’s lone House seat include state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, veteran and Gillette resident Denton Knapp and Sheridan resident Robyn Belinskey. As of Wednesday afternoon, Bouchard, Knapp and Belinskey were the only candidate to have formally filed for the office.
Trump also did not shy away from bashing his regular critic Cheney, with whom he has been locked in battle since she voted to impeach him following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The former president said Cheney was now congressional Democrats’ “biggest asset” and that she is now part of the “radical left.”
“The Republicans in the House, good people, some really tough people, people that you like and support,” Trump said, “they just can’t stand her. She’s just not been good.”
Prior to her vote to impeach Trump last year, Cheney voted with him more than 90% of the time.