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Hitting the campaign trail, Geoff Diehl pledges strong tie with Trump

Republican candidate for US Senate Geoff Diehl in Norwood greeted Kevin Pentowski of Norwood on Saturday at Norwood Day.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Republican candidate for US Senate Geoff Diehl in Norwood greeted Kevin Pentowski of Norwood on Saturday at Norwood Day.

Republican Geoff Diehl began the first weekend following his Tuesday primary election victory campaigning against US Senator Elizabeth Warren, blasting the Democratic senator for presidential ambitions, while contending he would be an effective partner with President Trump.

“I think she’s more focused on trying to earn the nomination of the radical wing of the Democrat Party for 2020, whereas I’m more focused on delivering for Massachusetts, and I am going to be a partner down in Washington . . . I will have a seat at the table she will never have,” Diehl said while campaigning in Norwood late Saturday morning.

Diehl walks a tight line in the campaign — he pledges to forge a strong working relationship with a president that the majority of Massachusetts voters oppose.

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Diehl is a staunch supporter of President Trump who cochaired Trump’s 2016 Massachusetts organization, and Trump won more than 1 million Massachusetts votes in that election.

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But Massachusetts now leads the states in opposition to the 45th president: A Morning Consult poll released last month found 62 percent of voters here disapproved of Trump’s job performance.

Mark Townsend, chairman of the Plymouth County Republican Club and a Trump supporter, said voters should focus on the candidates for the US Senate, not the president.

“The president doesn’t enter into the equation for me,” Townsend said. “I hope that people will make a decision based on the candidates in front of them . . . it’s about Geoff Diehl and Elizabeth Warren.”

During the Sept. 4 Republican primary for the US Senate race, Diehl came out ahead of rivals Beth Lindstrom and John Kingston with a total of about 143,000 votes — about 55 percent of the vote in the GOP race.

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Diehl, 49, who has been a state representative since 2011, serves a district that includes Whitman, Abington, and parts of East Bridgewater.

The candidate supports Trump’s proposed wall along the border with Mexico and tougher immigration laws; backs tax cuts, the Second Amendment, and repealing the Affordable Care Act; revitalizing the state’s fishing industry; and combating the opioid epidemic with a mix of treatment for addicts and cutting off the supply of illegal drugs.

Republicans appear to be lining up behind Diehl: On Friday, Governor Charlie Baker endorsed the entire slate of Republican candidates for statewide office Friday, including Diehl.

Diehl, along with Baker, Lindstrom, and Kingston, appeared at a Republican “Unity Breakfast” in Middleborough hosted by Townsend’s group.

While the event appeared on Diehl’s campaign schedule, a Globe reporter and photographer were barred from attending it. Townsend said the Plymouth GOP organization’s events are normally closed to the press.

Diehl (right) greeted Anne Marie Bustler and Tom Maloney in Norwood.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Diehl (right) greeted Anne Marie Bustler and Tom Maloney in Norwood.
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Diehl said his link to Trump would help make him a better senator than Warren.

“Really, I think [Republicans] are unified at this point to make sure that we can send someone to Washington [who is] going to be a partner with him and put Massachusetts first,” Diehl said.

Earlier in the week, the New York Times published a column penned by an anonymous Trump staffer claiming to be part of a “resistance” protecting the nation from Trump himself.

Trump has launched a hunt for the author, at least 10 administration officials denied writing it, and Warren has called on White House officials to invoke the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Diehl on Saturday dismissed the column and said it was impossible to evaluate it without knowing the source, and he criticized Warren for urging Trump’s removal from office.

“What raises my concerns is that Senator Warren would cite an anonymous source in a newspaper that seems pretty biased against the president as a reason to plunge our country into a constitutional crisis,” he said.

Diehl said he supports the investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller into Russian meddling of the 2016 election but supported Trump’s outreach to leaders like President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

“Yes, we can be critical and prepare ourselves for worst-case scenarios, but at the same time, we need to make sure we have dialogue going on with them, and I think that’s his effort, to create that continued dialogue,” he said.

When Diehl was asked if he’d seek Trump’s endorsement in the Senate race, he said: “If the president decides to support the race, that’s great, but my goal is to continue doing what I’ve been doing for over a year, which is asking for the endorsement and support of every single person I meet.”

Diehl spent part of Saturday campaigning in Norwood, where he greeted supporters who came up to shake his hand. Among them was Tom Brady, 47, and his son, Jack, 13, who took a photo with Diehl.

Brady, a state corrections officer, said he supported Diehl and Trump, and praised Diehl’s support for law enforcement. Brady criticized Warren for her statement last month about the US criminal justice system.

‘‘The hard truth about our criminal justice system: It’s racist . . . I mean front to back,’’ Warren said at Dillard University, a historically black college in New Orleans.

Brady said he believed Warren’s statement “called all of us racists, which we’re not. A lot of us go out of our way to help everybody and save lives on a daily basis.”

Kevin Pentowski, 54, another backer of Diehl and Trump, said the state needs a Republican lawmaker who can work with Trump.

“He could give us a friendly connection to Washington [with] both parties. We’re lacking that . . . and we are unfortunately a one-way street with the Democrats,” Pentowski said.

Material from the Associated Press and State House News Service was used in this report. John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.