Local paper says GOP senator 'embarrasses' his state by kissing up to Trump's son

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The Charlotte Observer's editorial board excoriated Sen. Thom Tillis for 'acting more like a party planner' for Eric Trump than a congressional check on the president.

Sen. Thom Tillis' (R-NC) hometown paper is accusing the lawmaker of "acting more like a party planner" than a serious politician tasked with holding the president to account.

The scathing Monday editorial in the Charlotte Observer comes amid a burgeoning international conflict with Iran, following a targeted airstrike in Baghdad, which left Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani dead. Donald Trump reportedly OK'd the strike before informing Congress.

The editorial board bristled at Tillis' recent effort to encourage constituents to sign a digital birthday card wishing Eric Trump, Trump's second-eldest son, a happy birthday.

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On Saturday, Tillis tweeted, "Eric Trump's birthday is coming up. We're putting together a birthday card for him — will you add your name?"

The editorial board of the Observer, the state's largest newspaper, was embarrassed by the plea.

"At a moment when the country is grappling with the unsettling U.S. assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani — a time when we’d like our members of Congress to position themselves as a thoughtful check on any president’s action — Tillis was acting more like a party planner," it wrote.

The board pointed out that Tillis has repeatedly refused to stand up to Trump on any issues, and "few people have an expectation that Tillis would raise questions about the president's killing of a foreign official and the ramifications it might have on U.S. interests and foreign policy."

It also noted that Tillis "long ago laid his political future at the feet of the president," but that the birthday card stunt "showed a troubling lack of distance between a U.S. senator and a president."

Tillis is up for reelection in November. The Observer posed a series of questions to readers, asking whether voters wanted "a U.S. senator who understands that it is sometimes his or her uncomfortable duty to question a president" or one who was "so consumed with currying favor from Donald Trump that he embarrasses himself and the state he represents[.]"

Tillis' attempts to ingratiate himself with the Trump family come even after his most significant primary opponent, Garland Tucker, dropped out of the race in December. Before Tucker dropped out, Tillis planned to spend $2 million on television ads defending his close relationship to Trump in order to shore up his conservative base.

One October 2019 poll showed just 22% of voters approved of the job Tillis was doing, with double that number saying they disapproved. Even among Republicans in the state, that number sat at just 40%.

Roll Call election experts list the North Carolina Senate race as a toss-up.

Army veteran and former North Carolina state Sen. Cal Cunningham was endorsed by the Democrats' Senate campaign arm in late October, giving his campaign a boost in its effort to take on Tillis.

"Cal Cunningham has shown he has the independence and strength to stand up to the powerful and fight for what's right," Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), said at the time.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.