Joe O’Dea says he hopes Trump doesn’t run for President

Andrew Kenney/CPR News
GOP Senate candidate Joe O’Dea declares victory at his primary election night party, June 28, 2022.

GOP Senate candidate Joe O’Dea said he hopes former President Donald Trump does not try again.

“I hope he doesn’t run. I don’t want to see him as president again,” O’Dea told talk radio host Ross Kaminsky on Friday. “I think that seeing a Biden-Trump rematch again in 2024 would rip the country apart. I think a lot of people are ready to move our country forward. So, I wouldn’t support him running again.”

In a GOP primary debate earlier this year O’Dea indicated he would back Trump, if the controversial Republican were the nominee. “If Donald Trump happens to be the Republican nominee, then I definitely won’t vote for Biden,” O’Dea said just a week before the primary against state Rep. Ron Hanks.

A spokesperson for the O’Dea campaign said that statement from the debate has not changed. If Trump and Biden face-off again in 2024, O’Dea will not be voting for Biden, without clarifying if that would mean he would vote for Trump. However, Kyle Clark from 9News tweeted that the O'Dea campaign had told him that O’Dea would still vote for Trump if he is the Republican nominee in 2024.

The O’Dea campaign was very clear in its message about the Republican presidential primary.

“If former President Trump runs, he can expect Joe to campaign alongside [other possible GOP contenders] Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, or Tim Scott,” said Kyle Kohli.

The comments are the latest step that O’Dea, who has positioned himself as a more centrist candidate, has taken to appeal to a broad swath of voters in a state that President Joe Biden won by double digits. Coloradans last elected a Republican to the Senate in 2014.

While it might seem like an about face to some Republican voters, however, O’Dea’s campaign manger Zack Roday said on Twitter that it shows O’Dea’s independent streak.

“Joe says what others want to say. That's what you get with a contractor - someone who tells it like it is,” Roday tweeted. “No political party will own [O’Dea]. He'll always put his country first.”

But if O’Dea is talking to show daylight between him and Trump, he continues to try and link Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet to Biden, who has seen low approval ratings as inflation reached record highs.

Just as Republican candidates are being asked about Trump in 2024, Democratic candidates are being asked if they will back Biden, who has indicated he will seek reelection, in 2024.

Bennet hasn’t said much on the topic. The Bennet campaign declined to comment.

The two-term incumbent told Politico that running for reelection is Biden’s “decision to make.” And instead he pivoted to thanking Biden for running and winning in 2020.

“It’s impossible to express the level of gratitude for Joe Biden having run for president to begin with. Because he was the only person of 330 million Americans who could have beaten Donald Trump. And he did beat Donald Trump,” Bennet said.

Bennet was one of almost two dozen Democrats who sought their party’s nomination for president. Another one, Colorado Democratic Sen. John Hickenlooper, has said he will support Biden - if he seeks re-election. 

“If he decides to run, I will definitely support him,” Hickenlooper told CPR’s Colorado Matters

It’s unclear whether the candidates positions’ on their parties’ potential presidential nominee will make much difference to voters more than two years before the election. 

Colorado’s Senate race is still considered a likely Democratic hold.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with additional comment from the O'Dea campaign and a previous version contained an incorrect spelling of Zack Roday's first name.