(CNN)How’s former President Donald Trump filling his days now that he’s gone from the White House? Judging from his public statements, he’s watching the battle for the Senate majority in 2022 closely — and trying to handpick GOP candidates in several key races.
On Thursday, apropos of nothing, Trump endorsed Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (R) for reelection in 2022 — even though the incumbent is undecided about whether to run again. (Johnson ruled out a run for governor in mid-March.)
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“Even though he has not yet announced that he is running, and I certainly hope he does, I am giving my Complete and Total Endorsement to Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin,” said Trump. “He is brave, he is bold, he loves our Country, our Military, and our Vets. He will protect our Second Amendment, and everything else we stand for. It is the kind of courage we need in the U.S. Senate. He has no idea how popular he is. Run, Ron, Run!”Which, well, OK!It’s no surprise that Trump likes Johnson. After all, the Wisconsin Republican has spread any number of falsehoods about the 2020 election — even going so far as to demand that Trump administration Attorney General Bill Barr provide evidence that the election wasn’t stolen. Johnson has also suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (a California Democrat) impeached Trump over his actions on January 6 in order to cover up her culpability in the US Capitol riot. (Yes, really!)Read MoreThe pre-endorsement of Johnson was Trump’s latest attempt to shape the 2022 Senate playing field. On Wednesday, Trump had waded into what is expected to be a crowded primary race to replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R) by endorsing Rep. Mo Brooks.”Few Republicans have as much COURAGE and FIGHT as Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks,” said Trump. “Mo Brooks has my Complete and Total Endorsement for the U.S. Senate representing the Great State of Alabama. He will never let you down!”Brooks was the first Republican member of Congress to announce he would object to the 2020 Electoral College results. He has also wrongly suggested that Antifa was behind the January 6 riot.Trump has also conducted a mini-episode of “The Apprentice” with the four main candidates running for the Ohio open-seat Senate race and made clear that he plans to actively work to defeat Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) next November. Trump also endorsed Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for reelection on Thursday.The likely Pennsylvania US Senate candidacy of Sean Parnell, who ran unsuccessfully for the House in 2020 with Trump’s strong endorsement, could also garner an endorsement from the former President in a key open-seat race.The Point: Even though we are only a few months into the 2022 election cycle, Trump has already made clear that he wants to — and will — play a central role in selecting Republican candidates. And that his choices will be based far less on which candidate has the best chance to win and more on who agrees with him most often.