Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said he has to make the election about the state of Nevada, not President Donald Trump, if he wants to defeat Democratic challenger Rep. Jacky Rosen. (Michael Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images)
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Sen. Dean Heller said he is happy to find himself in a tough re-election fight this year, and he knows exactly what he has to do to defeat Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), according to the Washington Examiner.
Heller is in the toughest position of any Republican incumbent this election cycle -- facing an up-and-coming Democratic challenger in a state Hillary Clinton won.
"The key to my race is making it about Nevada," Heller told the Examiner in an interview with Al Weaver. "That's getting harder and harder to do. If I make this about the future of Nevada, I'm going to get re-elected. If she makes it about Washington, D.C. and Donald Trump, she knows she wins."
What does Heller mean by that?
One of the most powerful attacks Rosen can throw Heller's way is to focus on his alignment with President Donald Trump, painting the incumbent as someone who puts Nevada second to Washington, D.C. politics.
Heller was initially unsupportive of Trump's candidacy, and even after he became president Heller famously held up an Obamacare repeal effort.
Now, however, Heller and Trump are allies, although Trump clearly hasn't forgotten the early days.
"He has a long memory, let's put it that way," Heller said of Trump.
Heller said he changed his stance on Trump because he became president, something he said he did with the two previous presidents as well.
"I wasn't his biggest supporter," Heller told the Washington Examiner. "Then, he became president of the United States -- and that's the difference. He became president of the United States, and I think I have an obligation and a responsibility for the people here in the state of Nevada to support the president of the United States, whether that's Bush, whether that's Obama, whether that's Trump, and I have supported the presidents after they've been elected."
What does Heller want to focus on?
According to the Examiner, Heller hopes to make the election about the positive things that have taken place in Nevada under his watch -- specifically, a dramatic decrease in unemployment and a consistent support of Nevada's veterans.
Heller said he knows he's in for a fight with Rosen, and wouldn't have it any other way.
"I'm used to rough cycles, and this is going to be a rough cycle too," Heller said. "If I have to be in a Senate race, I want to be the race. I want to be the race. I love the attention. My chances of winning are better if this is the race."
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