Someone is trying to paint Rep. Mark Meadows’ handpicked successor as a “Never Trumper” — but she vehemently insists she’s on the president’s side.
Republican voters received a mysterious text message warning that Lynda Bennett, a GOP candidate endorsed by the retiring congressman’s wife, opposes President Donald Trump, and there’s an attached audio file that claims to prove it, reported Politico.
“I’m never Trump. So now what?” a woman shouts in the 45-second audio recording. “What are you going to do? Going to ask me to get out there and help Trump get elected? And you want me to help organize 100 people to come and work the polls to get Trump elected when I am not for him? I am against him — never Trump!”
Bennett and her allies, including Meadows, insist the recording was selectively edited and taken out of context, and claim instead that the candidate had been role-playing a Trump critic during a meeting three years ago.
“It’s edited to make it appear that she’s against the president when she’s actually very much for, and I happen to know that,” Meadows said after the message went out last month. “There is zero chance that my wife would have endorsed Lynda Bennett had she been even remotely against the president of the United States.”
North Carolina Republicans were reportedly aggravated by the way Meadows announced his retirement, saying it was timed to help Bennett and shut out other candidates who might have filed for the March 3 primary if they had known he was leaving Congress.
But local officials say the message — which they can’t even verify is really Bennett — caught them off guard, and no one has claimed credit for it.
“It’s definitely a mystery,” said Aubrey Woodard, the 11th District GOP chair. “It certainly is. I don’t know if that’s to have an effect on her electability one way or another, but it’s certainly not something she wanted to have out.”
The texts were sent around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 29, from several D.C. area-code numbers, but attempts to call those numbers back resulted in an automated out-of-service response.
Republican activist Monroe Miller claims credit for creating the original recording of the 2016 meeting in Haywood County and posted two unedited segments on his website this month, as well as 11 pages of notes from the event — and he strongly disputes Bennett’s denials.
“This came out spontaneous,” Miller told Politico. “It’s pretty evident from the recording. She just went off, and I didn’t view that as role-playing. She was very vocal, Lynda was a very opinionated person.”