In case you missed it, new reporting this weekend revealed that failed politician John James was caught trying to distance himself from President Trump behind closed doors to African American community leaders in Detroit, after months of publicly pledging to support Trump “2000%.”
James quickly scrambled to save face and was forced to give his first print interview in hundreds of days to make clear that he “supports the President.” This latest fumble of getting caught misleading voters about his record in a private meeting comes on the one-year anniversary of his attempt to delete hundreds of videos after his last failed Senate race – proving James is more concerned about “trying to have it both ways” than being honest with Michiganders.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- During a video conference with black community leaders last week, James was asked whether he disagreed with Trump on anything given the president’s support of his candidacy.
- “Plenty, plenty of issues,” James responded. “Everything from cutting Great Lakes funding to ‘shithole countries’ to speaking ill of the dead,” apparently referring to Trump’s disparagement of the late Sen. John McCain. “I mean, where do you want to start?”
- “I haven’t gotten any money from Donald Trump. I haven’t gotten any money from Betsy DeVos. I haven’t gotten any money — that’s political talking points. Very little of that is true,” James said during the appearance, a video of which was obtained by POLITICO. (While James hasn’t received funding from the education secretary, her family has contributed heavily to a super PAC supporting his candidacy.)
- James faces the hurdle of running in Michigan, a swing state where the president’s popularity has ebbed. A recent Fox News poll showed Trump trailing Joe Biden by 8 percentage points and James lagging behind Democratic Sen. Gary Peters by 10 percentage points.
- While the president’s poll numbers are sagging across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, Trump advisers regard Michigan as a particular trouble spot. Of all the states the president won in 2016, they say, Michigan will be the hardest to carry again. Republicans have also struggled to recruit candidates in a pair of Michigan congressional seats that Democrats flipped in the 2018 midterm elections.
- Trump has heavily promoted James, tweeting last month that James “will be a GREAT Senator for Michigan!” Trump also endorsed James in his unsuccessful 2018 Senate bid. At one point, he tweeted a picture of him with James in the Oval Office.
- James has publicly touted his support from the White House and recently said that Trump has “done everything that he has thought was best” in his managing of the pandemic.
- Democrats say they are eager to paint James as a Trump puppet and frequently highlight his comment during the 2018 race that he was “2,000 percent” with the president’s agenda.
- Trump’s campaign advisers were less enthusiastic about his second bid. Last year, the president’s political team wrote a memo to the Senate GOP campaign arm making the case that a James statewide candidacy would further amp up Democratic energy and involvement and potentially hurt Trump’s prospects in the battleground state. Trump advisers instead pushed for James to run for a House seat.
- Trump aides, who are constantly on the lookout for signs of Republican dissent, are suspicious that James is trying to have it both ways.
- The comments come as James faces headwinds in his challenge to Peters, with polls showing the incumbent ahead of his challenger and Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in Michigan, a crucial battleground state.
- A campaign official told The Hill that James supports the president and that his remarks should not be interpreted as an effort to distance himself from Trump.
- He also said this month that Trump has “done everything that he has thought was best” in his handling of the coronavirus and noted during his failed 2018 campaign against Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) that he was “2,000 percent” behind the president.
- The Michigan Democratic Party seized on James’s recent remarks, saying they were evidence he was “changing his tone” on the White House.
- Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James said Saturday that his stance on President Donald Trump hadn’t changed and alleged someone leaked audio of him detailing disagreements with the president to “drive a wedge.”
- “I’ve been saying the same thing for years,” James said in an interview. “I just think that people are actually paying attention now.”
- During the 2018 campaign, James said he supported Trump’s agenda “2,000 percent.”
- He continued, “The fact that this was leaked with the intent to hurt me just shows that there’s some folks in Washington that are so out of touch with a Michigan that’s desperate for experienced leadership and fair representation.”
- “A failed politician who says one thing in public and another behind closed doors will continue to be a failed politician,” said Elena Kuhn, spokeswoman for the Michigan Democratic Party.
The Michigan Democratic Party launched JohnJamesRevealed.com to hold the failed U.S. Senate candidate accountable for his positions – including those made over the course of the 2018 campaign that he then tried to delete after losing that campaign. Since announcing he’d run again, just over six months after his last failed bid, James has been hiding from Michigan voters and refusing to answer questions from Michigan media.