CONCORD — Potential Republican U.S. Senate candidate Corey Lewandowski told a New Hampshire radio talk show host Tuesday morning that his “top priority” is getting President Trump reelected rather than opposing Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s bid for a third term in 2020.
But the Windham resident and former campaign manager of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign said his comments on the N.H. Today show with Jack Heath should not be interpreted that he’s reconsidering a Senate bid.
“I’m not reconsidering anything. I have said before and continue to say I am waiting for the (third quarter) fundraising numbers to be posted,” Lewandowski responded to the Union Leader, when asked if he was reconsidering the race and whether the Trump impeachment inquiry was the reason. His comments on the radio show were jumped on by national media and published soon after.
“I am speaking with my family and voters of New Hampshire before I make any final decisions,” Lewandowski told the Union Leader.
Heath had asked Lewandowski if it was “fair” he was giving a pause to a Senate race while examining how much Trump wants his services to defend him against impeachment.
“It is fair,” Lewandowski told Heath.
“Two big things. First, I want to see how much money these other candidates have raised and the second is as much as I think I would be a great fighter for the people of New Hampshire, and one U.S. senator can make a difference, it is my priority to make sure the President of the United States is reelected. That’s a top priority.”
Lewandowski had set $2 million as an appropriate bar each of the three Republicans running in this race had to meet — former House Speaker Bill O’Brien of Nashua, retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc of Stratham and well-heeled trial lawyer Corky Messner of Wolfeboro.
It’s not likely any of those three raised from other sources anywhere close to $2 million through Sept. 30.
Greg Moore replaced Lewandowski as state director of the Americans for Prosperity chapter in New Hampshire after Lewandowski moved on to take a role in the group’s national leadership.
“I haven’t heard anything to suggest Corey is stepping aside or rethinking things at all,” Moore said. “One thing is for sure. If the President prefers he take one position or the other, that is run for Senate or play a big role in defending against impeachment, I believe that this will weigh heavily in Corey’s thinking.”
The state’s Democratic Party has been sharply critical since Lewandowski first floated a run last July.
“With or without Corey Lewandowski, New Hampshire Republicans are in a nasty primary among candidates all committed to protecting a corrupt President determined to take away health care from thousands of people in the Granite State,” party spokesman Joshua Marcus-Blank said.
Shaheen herself has been using the threat of a Lewandowski campaign to raise money through email and social media platforms.
Just two weeks ago, a powerful Super PAC formed, “Stand with Corey” with the express purpose of recruiting Lewandowski to run.
The group included New Hampshire political operative and ex-Trump campaign aide Mike Biundo, Marty Obst, a longtime top adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, and John Brabender, a past Pence media adviser who worked on Rick Santorum’s and Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaigns.
The super PAC was to begin its effort with digital advertising and follow with on-the-ground organizing and other recruitment activities.
If Lewandowski decided to become a candidate, officials said the super PAC would engage in independent expenditure activities on his behalf but under federal law would have no direct ties to Lewandowski.
During his radio talk show appearance Tuesday, Lewandowski said Trump should have the right to meet with the whistleblower who launched a complaint against him about conversations with the president of Ukraine last summer.
“Our Constitution says you always have the right to address your accuser and the President should have nothing different than that,” Lewandowski said.
He told Heath that if Trump wants him on the “outside” defending the President against impeachment, “It is going to be a major consideration.”
Rep. Chris Pappas, D-NH, should rethink his support for an impeachment inquiry given he won in a district that also voted for Trump in 2016, Lewandowski added.
“The people of New Hampshire do not want the people of this country to be put through this. I would encourage this congressman to consider that,” Lewandowski said.
Even during the Heath interview, Lewandowski maintained his confidence about victory should he enter the Senate race.
“Well I have always said making sure this President gets reelected is my first priority. I think if I run for the U.S. Senate that I will win,” Lewandowski said.