WASHINGTON, D.C. (WGHP) – Former President Donald Trump gave Ted Budd’s winning bid for the U.S. Senate a boost in 2022, and now Budd is returning the favor.
Budd on Thursday morning joined at least six of his colleagues and about three dozen members of the House in supporting Trump’s bid to return to the White House in 2024.
Budd, a Republican from Advance who had been representing the old 13th District, was endorsed by Trump in 2021, giving him a surge of support that left another candidate who had been seeking that boost, former Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro, and former Gov. Pat McCrory in his electoral dust. Budd went on to edge out Democrat Cheri Beasley and take the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Richard Burr.
Budd never shied away from the controversies and criminal investigations of Trump, and in a statement released by his staff, Budd made clear that he prefers Trump to other Republicans who have announced bids for the White House – such as former Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Bryant and entrepreneur/author Vivek Ramaswamy – and those said to be considering it, such as Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), former Vice-President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Just a few years ago America was strong, but now under Joe Biden, we are a nation in decline,” Budd’s statement said. “Our economy is faltering, our wide-open Southern border is tragically wrecking lives, and our country’s power and influence in the world is diminished.
“Under President Trump, our economy saw record-setting growth, and families were starting to get ahead. Neighborhoods were safer. Across the globe, we were achieving peace. We were respected by allies and feared by enemies.
“That’s why I endorse Donald J. Trump for President. Hardworking, everyday families need a return of the America First agenda to restore prosperity and peace.”
Former Pres. Donald Trump’s backers
Trump has received similar endorsements from Budd’s colleagues Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Cindy Hide-Smith (R-Miss.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio). All but Graham are freshman senators whose candidacies were endorsed by Trump.
Republican Thom Tillis, North Carolina’s senior senator, has not made an endorsement – although he endorsed Trump in 2020, of course – but calls Trump “a friend.”
Among the 40 members of the House who have endorsed Trump, 9th District Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Southern Pines), who represents a corner of the Triad, is the only one of North Carolina’s seven GOP reps to state his support.
WGHP reached out to spokespersons for Hudson and 5th District Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) to ask about their possible endorsements, but there were no immediate responses. The office of 9th District Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) says Bishop has not yet made an endorsement.
It’s unclear why Budd chose this week to pledge his support for Trump and whether he considered or interviewed any of the other GOP candidates in the field. An adviser offered no further insight.
Budd’s statement also took some generic positions that are not entirely supported by data. For instance, the national economy, though relatively flat as inflation declined in recent months, was not necessarily better under Trump in 2017-2021.
One key indicator, the GDP growth rate, in 2021 of 5.95% was about 8% better than the pandemic-plagued 2020 but also about double the rates of 2018 and 2019. The overall increase in immigration, while substantial in the past two years, has done so at a slower rate than in 2017-2019, the Migration Policy Institute reported.
Violent crime as collected by the FBI continued a rise in 2021, the latest year available, a trend that had begun after its nadir in 2019. A report released in January said that violent crime had declined slightly in 35 cities last year.
Budd’s endorsement would suggest that he supports Trump’s position that he would stay in the presidential race no matter what happens in the investigations and legal proceedings he is facing, most recently his indictment in New York City on 34 felony counts of violating business laws in his payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Department of Justice Special Prosecutor Jack Smith is continuing to examine Trump’s role in the insurrection by right-wing protestors at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2020, and his taking and keeping classified and top-secret documents after he left office, despite a federal subpoena.
And, in Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis seated a special grand jury and is considering its recommendation to charge those involved in an attempt to meddle in Georgia’s presidential vote in 2020, including Trump. It’s unclear where her evaluation of charges stands.
More pressing to Trump is a trial scheduled to begin on April 25 in New York in a lawsuit for sexual battery and defamation brought by author E. Jean Carroll. His attorneys have asked for a delay.
And Trump is being deposed today in New York City in the $250 million lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James alleging fraud in Trump’s real estate businesses. Trump had been deposed in the case last August but invoked his Fifth Amendment protections more than 400 times.
Trump and Budd
When Trump endorsed Budd for Senate in June 2021, he noted that he could not support McCrory because “you can’t pick people who have lost two races,” referring to McCrory’s defeat in a race for governor in 2008 and then in his re-election loss to Gov. Roy Cooper in 2016.
After that endorsement, Trump also appeared at campaign rallies with Budd, and his endorsement gave Budd a clear boost in the polls. He easily won the primary, with 58.6% of the vote in a 14-person field, then earned 50.5% of nearly 3.7 million votes in defeating Beasley, a former chief justice of the NC Supreme Court.
Trump in 2020 carried North Carolina by fewer than 75,000 votes, getting 49.9% in counting that continued for about a week after Election Day.