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Trump, Pence Criticize U.S. Chamber of Commerce Head over Democratic Endorsements

President Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Md., September 18, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

President Trump and Vice President Pence criticized the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a Friday phone call following the group’s endorsement about two dozen House Democrats, Axios reported.

The lobbying group drew criticism from donors and members after announcing its intent to back various vulnerable Democrats, including Representatives Joe Cunningham (D., S.C.), Elaine Luria (D., Va.), and Kendra Horn (D., Ok.). Republicans have long counted on the organization for endorsements and campaign support.

On Friday, Trump asked CEO Tom Donahue if the endorsements were a “done deal,” two sources familiar with the call told Axios. While Donahue said that the Chamber goes through a selective endorsement process every year, which generally includes some Democrats, Pence responded that he and Trump were frustrated by the extent of the endorsements.

The Chamber bases its endorsements on how frequently members of Congress vote in favor of legislation that advances the Chamber’s priorities.

The turn to endorse Democrats has caused other Republican politicians to criticize the lobbying group.

“I don’t want the U.S. Chamber’s endorsement because they have sold out,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said on Lou Dobbs Tonight earlier this month. “It is hypocrisy that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would endorse the Democrats that are part of this socialist agenda that is driving this country out, and it’s fighting this president.”

Additionally, on Thursday the Chamber announced a round of layoffs amid an internal restructuring process.

“We have had some difficult conversations with a small number of our colleagues whose roles are no longer required,” the group’s president Suzanne Clark wrote in a memo obtained by Politico. “It is never easy to say goodbye to people we know as both colleagues and friends, and we are supporting their transition in every way that we can.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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