Just as his onetime naysayers have come around to the president, so too has Trump embraced establishment pols he once spurned.
Not that long ago, it wasn’t hard to imagine moderate Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) breaking with President Donald Trump in his reelection campaign, given Nevada’s swing-state status and Heller’s refusal before the 2016 election to say whether he’d vote for Trump.
But on Saturday the two were acting like old pals. Standing onstage in this small rural city in the far reaches of Northern Nevada, Heller basked in the glow of the president, who trekked cross-country to stump for his onetime skeptic.
The president praised the senator for his collaboration on tax reform and veterans issues. Heller declared the president’s first two years a triumph: “Welcome to Trump Country!” he beamed, turning to Trump: “Mr. President, you know a little bit about gold. In fact, I think everything you touch turns to gold.”
Trump has nursed some legendary grudges. But his union of obligation with Heller, coming after their turbulent start, underscores what his advisers describe as the president’s increasing comfort with bending to political imperatives the longer he’s in the White House. And it provides insight into his evolution from anti-establishment interloper to party leader whose fortunes are now closely linked with Republicans.
On his swing though Nevada, Arizona and Montana this week, Trump touted his alliances with former rivals, brandishing his capacity for political absolution like a United Nations peacekeeper might carry the blue helmet.