Listen Live
Former President Trump Addresses The North Carolina GOP Convention

Source: Melissa Sue Gerrits / Getty

In a speech to North Carolina’s GOP on Saturday, former President Donald Trump endorsed Rep. Ted Budd in the U.S. Senate race, a surprise pick to try and regain control of the chamber next year.

Trump made a rare public appearance since leaving the White House in January and sorted through an array of topic during his time at the podium including China and the Biden administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic before throwing an endorsement to Budd who was in attendance.

Many believed the former President’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, would be emerging into the race to fill the seat left open by Sen. Richard Burr in 2022, but those projections have now faded. Trump, a Wrightsville Beach native and wife of Eric Trump, was on-hand to announce she would not be seeking a Senate run.

Trump’s endorsement is a boost for Budd, who is running behind former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory in the latest poll of likely GOP voters in the state. Rep. Mark Walker is also in the mix on the Republican side of the ticket, but has yet to gather much support in the early going.

During Trump’s time on stage, he fired a shot at McCrory telling his supporters, “You can’t pick people that have already lost two races and do not stand for our values.”

McCrory released a statement shortly after Trump’s rebuke saying he was “disappointed” the President endorsed a Washington insider.

“We will win this race – the primary and the general,” McCrory vowed. “Ted Budd’s bought-and-paid-for Washington insider voting record is not electable in North Carolina. If supporters of President Trump want his agenda to be supported in the US Senate, they should not vote for Ted Budd, who has opposed him at every turn – and who would lose to the far-left next November.”

North Carolina’s Senate race is expected to be one of the most heated in the mid-term cycle with the majority of the chamber hanging in the balance.

Budd reportedly spent time courting Trump since he announced his bid in April, and even traveled to South Florida in hopes of getting backed by the ex-leader. He was also one of 147 Republican lawmakers to object to the certification of electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.