Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship has a theory for why President Donald Trump endorsed his opponents: Trump is so busy that he can’t tell “the establishment” is misleading him.
Trump tweeted Monday that Blankenship, a former coal baron who served a year in prison, had no chance of winning a general election. Instead, the president said, voters should throw their support behind one of the other two candidates.
Blankenship responded with a lengthy statement where he called himself “even Trumpier than Trump.” The statement claims that establishment politicians are tricking Trump into not supporting Blankenship, because Blankenship supports Trump’s agenda.
“The President is a very busy man, and he doesn’t know me, and doesn’t know how flawed my two main opponents are in this primary,” the statement reads. “The establishment is misinforming him because they do not want me to be in the U.S. Senate and promote the President’s agenda.”
Blankenship’s campaign is built on a Trump-like “drain the swamp” platform. Blankenship has worked to align himself as an outsider with Trump, even when the president and his allies have rejected Blankenship.
Blankenship has already released attack ads that go after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “China family,” as well as give him the moniker “cocaine Mitch.” McConnell is married to Elaine Chao, the U.S. transportation secretary who was born in Taiwan. Chao’s father owns a shipping vessel on which drugs were allegedly found aboard in 2014.
Blankenship, who oversaw Massey Energy from 2000 to 2010, filed to run for Senate in West Virginia months after he was released from prison for a misdemeanor conviction related to a 2010 mining disaster that killed 29 people. A poll taken by one of Blankenship’s opponents, however, shows that Blankenship is, in fact, leading the race.
Cover image: Don Blankenship, who is running for the Republican nomination for Senate in West Virginia, conducts a town hall meeting at Macado's restaurant in Bluefield, W.Va., on May 3, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
This article originally appeared on VICE News US.