Former President Donald Trump’s acid-tongued endorsements of Democratic candidates on Wednesday has introduced a last-minute curveball into two New York congressional primaries.
Writing on his social media platform Truth Social, Trump offered what he claims is his blessing to Dan Goldman, the former federal prosecutor who led House Democrats’ impeachment of Trump in 2019, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
In a separate thread, he said that a vote for Maloney, who is locked in a three-way race to hold on to New York’s 12th Congressional District, is a “vote for the future” and praised her as a “kind and wonderful person.” Trump, a former East Side resident, correctly noted that he has contributed to Maloney’s campaigns in the past, albeit not since 2009.
Trump also had good things to say about Rep. Jerry Nadler, one of Maloney’s two main competitors. He described Nadler as a “hard driving man of the people.”
The so-called endorsements are widely seen as a sarcastic form of taunting, or “trolling,” aimed at sowing dissension among Democrats. Trump has made similar comments in the past, such as when he spoke favorably about then-Rep. Keith Ellison’s campaign to chair the Democratic National Committee in 2017.
“True to form, Trump is trying to meddle in an election,” Goldman’s campaign said in a statement. “This is a pathetic attempt at fooling Democrats who are far smarter than Trump is, and it’s clear that only one candidate in NY-10 is living rent-free in Trump’s head.”
Goldman’s campaign cited Trump’s previous criticism of Goldman on Truth Social as evidence of Trump’s insincerity, but the campaign has also featured the social media post in TV advertisements as evidence of Trump’s hostility to Goldman.
Former President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower to meet with New York Attorney General Letitia James for a civil investigation on Aug. 10. He has trolled Democrats in the past. (Photo: James Devaney/Getty Images)
Maloney, by contrast, reacted to Trump’s remarks by simply rejecting his backing.
“He should be more concerned about the investigation I’m leading as Chair of the Oversight Committee into the storage of his classified documents at Mar-a-Lago,” she tweeted. “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll pass.”
Nadler’s campaign has declined to comment on Trump’s message.
Some of Maloney and Goldman’s Democratic primary opponents nonetheless seized on Trump’s remarks as evidence of their unsuitability to serve in Congress.
Suraj Patel, an attorney challenging Maloney and Nadler, suggested that Trump’s comments reflected poorly on Patel’s rivals.
“I’m proud that Donald Trump has nothing positive to say about me because he knows how much more effective a new generation of diverse, energetic Democrats will be in stopping his agenda,” Patel tweeted.
In New York’s 10th District, state Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou and Rep. Mondaire Jones pounced on Trump’s comments. (Two other major candidates, New York City Council member Carlina Rivera and state Assembly member Jo Anne Simon, have not weighed in.)
“Donald Trump just endorsed my multi-millionaire opponent, in case you needed a reminder of what the stakes are,” Niou tweeted.
Jones tweeted about Trump’s post, sent out a fundraising email about it and blasted Goldman for it during the live televised debate Wednesday evening.
“It was horrifying that on our way to this very debate, Donald J. Trump endorsed Daniel Goldman, who is on this stage right now, saying that he’s the best chance that we’ve got in this primary to defeat progressives like myself and others on this stage,” Jones said. “He also cited Mr. Goldman’s inability to successfully prosecute the first Trump impeachment as a staff person on the Hill.”
Goldman responded to the attack by arguing that Jones betrayed a misunderstanding of Trump’s nature.
“We should know enough by now to know that we can’t take Donald Trump at his word and that he likes to meddle in elections,” Goldman said. “The fact that my opponent seems to actually take him seriously just shows how little he knows Donald Trump.”
Jones’ use of Trump’s remarks as a cudgel did not have its intended effect on at least one prospective voter in New York’s 10th District.
Michael Cohen, an author and former speechwriter in the Barack Obama administration, said on Twitter that Jones’ move had prompted him to rule out voting for him.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.