By Jeff Zeleny and Dan Merica
(CNN) — President Donald Trump invited several red state Democratic senators to a White House lunch Thursday in hopes of wooing their support for his Supreme Court nominee and other agenda items, a White House official told CNN Monday.
The four senators — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Jon Tester of Montana — are up for re-election in 2018.
A White House official confirmed the lunch, which was first reported by USA Today, saying the President wants to talk to them — and others — about judges and his legislative package.
Trump will likely need the help of a few Democratic senators if he wants the legislative body to approve Neil Gorsuch, his Supreme Court pick. Manchin met with Gorsuch earlier this month. Otherwise, Gorsuch’s confirmation will rely on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell changing the Senate rules in order for Republicans to approve the nominee on a party-line vote, something he is loathe to do.
Heitkamp met with Trump in December, setting off panic among top Democratic congressional leaders, some of whom worried the moderate would leave the Senate to take a job with the Trump administration. While Heitkamp did not take a job, she has shown a willingness to meet and work with Trump. The President won North Dakota 63% to 27% for rival Hillary Clinton.
Manchin also met with Trump in December, but said shortly after that he will remain in the Senate and not join the administration. Trump won West Virginia 68% to 26% for Clinton.
“Right now, I believe that I can best serve my state of West Virginia in the United States Senate,” Manchin said in a statement following the December meeting.
Trump won Donnelly’s Indiana 57% to 38% for Clinton and Tester’s Montana 56%-35%.