During a speech in St. Charles, Missouri, last week, President Donald Trump said of Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, “Josh, when you’re ready, you have my word, I’m going to come here and campaign for you.”
Most observers have taken this as an endorsement, which it would certainly seem to be. But at least one of Hawley’s Republican opponents for U.S. Senate, retired Air Force pilot Lt. Colonel Tony Monetti, does not assume that Trump’s kind words represent an endorsement of Hawley in the primary. Monetti is operating as though this were still an open question.
Last month former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka came to the Kansas City area to help raise money for Monetti, and he will repeat the performance in the St. Louis area. Last week, Monetti went to New York to meet with another prominent Trump adviser, Steve Bannon. While in New York Monetti took in a Trump fund raiser.
As a political outsider, Monetti had to wait in line with everyone else, but he did not let the opportunity go to waste. The gregarious son of Italian immigrants introduced himself to the people in line and explained why he wanted to be the next U.S. Senator from Missouri.
Once inside, Monetti found a seat about 20 feet away from the president. When Trump offered to take questions from the audiences, Monetti, in his B-2 Bomber jacket, leaped on a chair and began to wave his arms. The audience members who had met him outside started shouting, “He’s a veteran. Take his question.” And sure enough, Trump did.
Monetti was ready: “President Trump, hi, my name is Lt. Colonel Tony Monetti, retired B-2 stealth pilot, conservative outsider running for the U.S. Senate in Missouri to defeat liberal Claire McCaskill. I have the heart of a Trump, but not his pocket book. What does a guy like me, a veteran, need to do to get on your radar and gain support from people in order to help you drain the swamp and cut through the establishment?”
Trump smiled and, according to Monetti, said something like the following, “Well Colonel, I would say you just did get on my radar and on everyone else’s in this room too!” The crowd applauded as he continued to speak with Monetti while Monetti remained standing on the chair. Trump then said, “Kellyanne, come on out here and offer some other advice.” To Monetti’s amazement, adviser Kellyanne Conway came out from behind the curtain. “Well Colonel,” Conway said to Monetti, “first of all, make sure you don’t believe all of the polls. If you did, Hillary would be president right now.” The room exploded in laughter, and Conway continued to offer advice from the stage.
“That moment in time, reset my campaign,” Monetti told the Sentinel. “It was something that was not planned, but I was ready. As a person of faith, I believe in my heart that God has a plan. We have to be ready to stand when the moment comes.”
Monetti knows that beating Hawley, let alone McCaskill, will take more than faith, but without faith, he has no chance at all.