Tennessee Senate hopeful Bill Hagerty’s senior campaign chief, Ward Baker, is a ‘Never Trumper,’ striving to obstruct the Republican Party from adopting a populist platform while working for a host of establishment Republicans including Mitt Romney, The National Pulse can reveal.
Similar to Hagerty – an establishment Republican who favored Jeb Bush in the 2016 Republican primary and now purports to be a Trump-style populist – Baker served as a Senior Advisor to the presidential campaign of notorious Never Trumper Mitt Romney.
While serving as the head of National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) during the 2016 election, Baker used his position to encourage candidates to distance themselves from President Trump. In a memo leaked to The Washington Post, Baker demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding – if not outright rejection – of the President Trump’s America First orientation of the Republican party:
Candidates “need not be tied to [Trump] so closely,” the memo, which served as the paramount blueprint for Republican Senate candidates, continued.
What’s more, the veteran campaign consultant demoted President Trump to merely a “phenomenon” while also attacking him as a “misguided missile” who is “subject to farcical fits” and “says what’s on his mind,” emphasizing “that’s a problem.”
Perhaps an insight into the strategy of the Hagerty campaign, he only advises candidates to “grab onto the anti-Washington populist agenda” to capture votes.
Baker’s hostility to President Trump’s populism is not an anomaly: in addition to Romney, Baker has consulted and advised a host of establishment Republicans including Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Cory Gardner, and George W. Bush during his 2004 presidential run.
Beyond aligning himself ideologically with the establishment ilk, he appears to retain close relationships with individuals like McConnell who was described by Politico as “playing a key role in Baker’s selection” to head the NRSC.
While Hagerty, also a long-time Romney ally, supporter, and business partner, casts himself as a champion of President Trump’s agenda, this hire is the latest indicator such promises are merely a facade: he served on the board of a company championing Black Lives Matter, dramatically increased Chinese investment in his state, and maxed out donations to John McCain at the peak of the late Senator’s feud with President Trump.
The hire is in line with another top Hagerty staffer, Kim Kaegi, who has worked for Never Trumpers and even Democrats.
If “personnel is policy,” a win for Hagerty is a loss for supporters of the America First agenda.