Trump looks to reshape the Senate in anticipation of his second act as president

As Donald Trump charts out his midterm elections strategy, his focus has turned to the contest for the Senate, not just in hopes of getting it back under GOP control but of having more compliant lawmakers there should he become president again.

Trump’s interest in the chamber stems in part from a lingering aggrievement he had over how his term in office went. Major agenda items were stymied there. And aides say Trump is determined to ensure that, should he end up back in the White House, that doesn’t happen again.

“If Trump is planning to run for president — which all signs point to, he is — the most important thing should be to elect more people to the Senate who share his worldview,” one Trumpworld adviser said. “I think the biggest problem Trump had in the first four years was the lack of ideological supporters in the Senate.”

That determination has prompted Trump to be more nuanced, at least so far, with some endorsements. While the 45th president has given his seal of approval to candidates ranging from a local mayor to the autocratic prime minister of Hungary, he has held off on doing so in key Senate races. That includes Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — where his early pick, Sean Parnell, dropped out after messy details of his divorce were revealed.

This Saturday, Trump will hold a rally in Florence, Ariz. But he is not expected to make an endorsement of any Senate candidate in that state, according to aides. People close to the former president say Trump isn’t being judicious so much as cautious, having been burned too many times backing candidates that weren’t fully vetted or weren’t sure things in their primaries.

Endorsements may not be forthcoming, but an aggressive midterm election push by the ex-president to boost MAGA candidates and his own supremacy in the party is. Trump plans to hold as many as two rallies a month leading up November, with expected visits to states such as Wyoming and Nevada, where he canceled a rally late last year, according to an adviser. Several top Republicans say they anticipate that Trump will look to do some sort of counter-programming to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address this coming March — though a Trump adviser did not expect him to deliver the official Republican rebuttal, which would be at the invitation of congressional leadership.

Aides and advisers say Trump is closely analyzing and watching key Senate races where candidates are duking it out over the airwaves and vying for his attention. There isn’t a grand strategy that dictates how or when he will get involved, they say. Instead, Trump’s decision to endorse often comes down to personal chemistry during Mar-a-Lago visits, chatter from informal cell phone advisers and friends, and what Trump has gleaned from information given to him by advisers. Fundraisers for Republican candidates, where Trump might pop in to say hello, are an important perk for candidates and are held almost nightly at the ex-president’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla.

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