President Donald Trump values loyalty above most other qualities.
“Loyalty is extremely important to me,” Trump wrote in his 2015 book, “Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America.” “My family and close friends will say that I am loyal to a fault.”
When Trump delivered a speech in Salt Lake City about shrinking national monuments on December 4, he called out Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and state Rep. Greg Hughes for their backing.
“An original supporter of mine. You know, you always remember those original supporters,” Trump said of Reyes. “Greg, thank you. He was an original right at the beginning. Thank you, Greg. He had a feeling.”
For the earliest big-name supporters, their loyalty often paid off in the form of job offers, media attention, and exposure in the national spotlight.
Here’s where 10 of Trump’s “original supporters” are now:
In February 2016, Sessions became first US senator to endorse Trump, who didn’t clinch the Republican nomination until months later.
“This election is our last chance to save US sovereignty and to end the domination of the political establishment over the interests of working Americans,” Sessions said at the time. “I am pleased to endorse Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States.”
Sessions was awarded mightily for his early endorsement. Fewer than two weeks after defeating Hillary Clinton in the general election, Trump picked Sessions to be his attorney general.
Rep. Chris Collins of New York
Sessions was the first senator to officially back Trump, but the first House Republican to endorse him was Collins.
“Donald Trump has clearly demonstrated that he has both the guts and the fortitude to return our nation’s jobs stolen by China, take on our enemies like ISIS, Iran, North Korea and Russia, and most importantly, re-establish the opportunity for our children and grandchildren to attain the American Dream,” Collins said in his endorsement in February 2016.
Collins is a two-term congressman representing the Buffalo area. He’s running for reelection in 2018.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been one of Trump’s most ardent supporters.
In April 2016, he threw his support behind Trump, falling just short of an official endorsement because he didn’t want to be perceived as an official member of the campaign.
“Donald’s a very, very good friend. I believe he’d be the best candidate. I think he’d be the person I would like to see win,”Giuliani said.
During the GOP Convention, he gave a fiery speech backing up many of Trump’s most controversial campaign positions.
Today, Giuliani remains a fervent Trump supporter. Over the summer, he was even reportedly being considered to replace Sessions as attorney general.
Former Alaska Gov. and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin came out in full force in support for Trump in January 2016.
“Are you ready for a commander in chief who will let our warriors do their job and go kick ISIS’ arse?” Palin said during her endorsement. “[He’s] not a politician, can I get a hallelujah?”
Palin currently runs a conservative news website called sarahpalinnews.com. She remains a vocal supporter of Trump, and periodically does media interviews touting his positions.
Jerry Falwell, Jr.
Jerry Falwell, Jr., the president of Liberty University in Virginia, helped corral the evangelical base for Trump during the campaign.
“He is a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again,” Falwell said during his endorsement in January 2016.
Trump thanked Falwell for his support, calling him “one of the most respected religious leaders in our nation.”
While it was reported after Trump’s inauguration that Falwell would lead a presidential task force on higher education, those plans never came to fruition. But the two remain close. Trump delivered his first university commencement address earlier this year at Liberty University, where Falwell is still president.
Just weeks after turning his back on his own presidential ambitions, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed Trump.
“Donald and I … have been friends for over a decade. He has been a good and loyal friend to our family,” Christie said in February 2016. “There is no one who is better prepared to provide America with the strong leadership that it needs – both at home and around the world – than Donald Trump.”
Christie is currently the chair of the White House’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. His term as governor ends January 16, 2018.
In May, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee endorsed Trump on Twitter.
Huckabee has one of the closest ties to Trump of all his “original” supporters. His daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is the White House press secretary.
Huckabee frequently goes on Fox News and other cable news shows to defend Trump and his daughter. On December 13, he lambasted MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski for disparaging his daughter.
He also hosts the news and commentary TV show “Huckabee” on TBN.
Billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel shocked much of the tech industry when he announced his support for Trump at a time when many in the tech world strongly opposed his candidacy.
But Thiel has made a career out of straying from the pack and bucking conventional practice.
“No matter what happens in this election, what Trump represents isn’t crazy and it’s not going away,” Thiel said in a speech about a week before the election. “He points toward a new Republican party beyond the dogmas of Reaganism. He points even beyond the remaking of one party to a new American politics that overcomes denial, rejects bubble thinking, and reckons with reality.”
Thiel was also the first openly gay man to address the Republican National Convention and tout his sexuality onstage in July 2016.
Although Thiel served as an unofficial adviser to Trump during the transition phase, he has reportedly been frustrated and “annoyed” with the president’s performance, according to Vanity Fair.
Meanwhile, Thiel, who remains a Facebook board member, continues to make controversial investments. In November, he expressed interest interest in buying Gawker.com – the news site he helped sue into bankruptcy.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio
In January 2016, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio – the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff” in America – announced he would back Trump.
Arpaio, 85, is known for illegally detaining Latinos in Maricopa, Arizona, where he reigned for roughly two dozen years.
“It’s just easy to endorse him because everything I believe in, he’s doing and he’s going to be doing it when he becomes president,” Arpaio said during his endorsement press conference.
Trump never forgot the early endorsement. In August, Trump pardoned Arpaio after he was found guilty of criminal contempt for violating the terms of a 2011 court order in a racial profiling case.
Willie Robertson, the millionaire star of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty,” officially endorsed Trump in January 2016, but he supported him as far back as September 2015 when Trump invited him to speak onstage at a rally in Oklahoma.
“Mr. Trump is a real leader. He represents success and strength, two attributes our country needs,” Robertson said. “Like me, he is a successful businessman and family man, and I endorse his candidacy for President of the United States.”
He also spoke at the RNC in Cleveland.
Robertson still stars in his hit reality TV show, which follows his family and their duck-hunting and equipment business in Louisiana. He has an estimated net worth of $US20 million.
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