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Stefanik takes back endorsement of Ohio Republican after he’s caught bashing Trump as ‘arrogant’

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik retracted her initial support of an Ohio GOP congressional candidate Thursday after audio emerged of him criticizing former President Donald Trump as “arrogant.”

Stefanik (R-NY) had endorsed former Ohio state Rep. Craig Riedel for the Buckeye State’s battleground 9th Congressional District back in July, hailing him as “the conservative fighter we need.”

“I informed Craig Riedel (OH-09) that I will be withdrawing my endorsement. I was very disappointed in his inappropriate comments regarding President Trump,” Stefanik posted on X Thursday.

“As we begin 2024, my focus is on ensuring we nominate the strongest candidates on the ballot who are committed to electing President Trump this November and expanding our House GOP Majority,” she added.

Riedel was recorded badmouthing Trump for hurling insults at his political foes.

Elise Stefanik was the first member of House GOP leadership to endorse Donald Trump. Facebook / Elise Stefanik

“I think he is arrogant. I don’t like the way he calls people names. I just don’t think that’s very becoming of a president,” Riedel said in audio disseminated last month by conservative activist Charlie Kirk.

Riedel, who had been viewed as a favorite in the GOP primary to face 21-term incumbent Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), further said he didn’t want the 77-year-old’s endorsement in his race.

“I’m not. We are not. Nope,” Riedel replied in the audio when asked, “You’re not looking for a Trump endorsement, are you?”

Elise Stefanik had been critical of Donald Trump when he first entered the political realm in 2015, but has since become one of his strongest backers in Congress. REUTERS

A day after the statements surfaced, Riedel endorsed Trump for president and then claimed that he had been bamboozled.

“[Rep.] Matt Gaetz [R-Fla.] and a social media trickster pulled a stunt yesterday to try and convince President Trump to get involved in my congressional primary for proven loser JR Majewski,” he claimed. “Yesterday, a so-called donor called me, making numerous anti-Trump statements.”

Air Force veteran and pro-Trump hip-hop performer Majewski is also vying in the GOP primary for the seat. He lost to Kaptur in 2022 following a report that he had misrepresented his military record.

Stefanik initially supported Riedel’s Congressional bid.

That September, the Associated Press reported that Majewski had claimed to be a “combat veteran” in Afghanistan, though public records indicated that he had never deployed there and instead spent six months on a base in Qatar.

After Majewski argued that his service in Afghanistan was classified and that he had frequently flown shipments to that country, a follow-up AP story revealed he had been demoted in the military for driving drunk on an air base

Stefanik’s un-endorsement of Riedel comes after Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio) similarly pulled his support last month.

“Due to recent comments by Craig Riedel, I must rescind my support for his candidacy. Make America Great Again. AGAIN,” Miller said at the time.

Stefanik had first said Riedel was “the conservative fighter we need.” CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Other House Republican leaders have also backed Riedel’s campaign, including House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.)

Stefanik has been a stalwart backer of Trump and pre-emptively gave him her endorsement in November 2022, days before he launched his 2024 White House campaign.

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Written by SaleemBaloch

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