On Monday morning, President Donald Trump took sides in the West Virginia Senate Republican primary. Trump didn't endorse a candidate; instead he told GOP voters who NOT to vote for.
"To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference," tweeted Trump. "Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can't win the General Election in your State...No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!"
Trump's opposition to Blankenship comes as West Virginia Republican insiders suggest that the recent spate of controversy surrounding the former coal mine owner has actually given him a bit of momentum heading into Tuesday's face-off against Rep. Evan Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
What controversy, you ask?
Where to start! There was the time that Blankenship referred to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao's father as a "wealthy Chinaperson." Or the time when he said that term wasn't racist because "races are Negro, white Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian. There's no mention of race. I've never used a race word." What about that time he referred to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Chao's husband, as "Cocaine Mitch." (That and much more on just how bad Blankenship is as a candidate is available here!)
In urging a vote against Blankenship, Trump follows in the footsteps of his son -- Donald Trump Jr. -- who, at the end of last week, tweeted: "I hate to lose. So I'm gonna go out on a limb here and ask the people of West Virginia to make a wise decision and reject Blankenship! No more fumbles like Alabama. We need to win in November."
The key component of the Trumps -- Donald and Don -- is that Blankenship can't win in November and, therefore, shouldn't be supported by Republican primary voters.
The entire focus is on winning. Not on what Blankenship has said or what he believes.
Retiring Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a frequent Trump critic and someone mentioned as a possible 3rd party candidate for president in 2020, hit Trump for that mentality in a tweet Monday. Tweeted Flake:
"The problem isn't that Don Blankenship can't win a general election in West Virginia, it's that he shouldn't win a general election in West Virginia. #CountryOverParty"
Trump's tweet is a reminder that he believes, deeply, in the concept that winning isn't everything, it's the only thing.
Think back to Trump's decision to get involved in the Alabama special election on behalf of embattled former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Sure, Trump endorsed Moore's primary opponent -- appointed Sen. Luther Strange -- but when it became clear that Moore could well win despite the large number of women who came forward to say he had sought relationships with them when they were under age, Trump went all in for Moore.
Why? Because ANY Republican is better than ANY Democrat.
The only calculation in Trump's mind is whether or not a person can win. If polling had shown Moore dead in the water, you can bet Trump would have been much more wary of getting involved.
Seen through that lens, Trump's decision to speak out -- or tweet out -- in opposition to Blankenship is wholly a reflection of the belief that the controversial coal baron can't beat Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the fall.
Trump's win-above-all-else strategy isn't unique to him -- or to his party. Or the country. People now see winning as the only goal. And any means to win justifies the end -- as long as the end is a victory.
Trump has made clear -- over and over and over again -- that he likes winners. He likes to be around them. And, he has also made clear that he doesn't accept the idea of the president as a moral leader, someone who does the right thing rather than the political thing.
Trump's tweet on Blankenship starkly reveals both of those character traits.