Julian Routh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Former President Donald Trump has officially waded into the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania, endorsing Army veteran Sean Parnell for the Republican nomination.
In a statement posted to Twitter by the former president’s eldest son, Mr. Trump praised Mr. Parnell, a Western Pennsylvania resident, for his service in the Army and said he “never left anyone behind.” The former president noted Mr. Parnell is a Purple Heart recipient and was awarded two Bronze stars.
“He will make Pennsylvania very proud and will fight for Election integrity, Strong Borders, our Second Amendment, Energy Jobs, and so much more,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Sean Parnell will always put America First. He has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”
Mr. Trump’s endorsement was seen as a potential game-changer among Republican insiders, as the former president continues to be popular among GOP voters. But some analysts had urged Republican candidates to be careful with how close they align with Mr. Trump if they want to win a general election in a state that Democrat Joe Biden carried in 2020.
Mr. Parnell, reacting to the endorsement, praised Mr. Trump’s record as president and hit Mr. Biden, alleging that the current president has created “crisis after crisis” while his predecessor “kept America safe for four years.”
The two Republicans have routinely praised each other in recent years — and defended one another when it came time for elections.
It was Mr. Trump who first floated Mr. Parnell’s name as a congressional candidate for the 17th district, which led the Army veteran to officially make the pursuit. Mr. Parnell then spoke at the Republican National Convention, urging “disillusioned” Democrats to abandon their party and back Mr. Trump for four more years.
Mr. Trump didn’t win another term in the White House, and Mr. Parnell didn’t win his bid for Congress — losing to U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, who is now pursuing his own Senate run as a Democrat.
The former president, in his statement endorsing Mr. Parnell for the Senate, called back to that Congressional race and said Mr. Parnell got “robbed” in what he deemed the “2020 Presidential Election Scam.” But there was never any evidence that suggested Mr. Parnell beat Mr. Lamb, and his bid to bar many mail-in votes from the state’s certified tallies — enough to declare him the winner — were ultimately rejected by the courts.
Mr. Parnell’s military service was at the heart of the former president’s endorsement, and has been one of his main pitches during this campaign. He spent more than a year commanding a 40-man infantry platoon in the Hindu Kush mountains — a combat tour along Afghanistan’s eastern frontier that he documented in his book, “Outlaw Platoon.” He was wounded in action and medically discharged following his deployment in 2006.