WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump offered his “Complete and Total Endorsement” of Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse on Tuesday night.

Sasse, a first-term senator who recently announced he plans to run for reelection, had faced questions about his relationship with Trump, a fellow Republican.

But Trump appeared to put those questions to rest in an 8:30 p.m. Central time tweet: “Senator Ben Sasse has done a wonderful job representing the people of Nebraska. He is great with our Vets, the Military, and your very important Second Amendment. Strong on Crime and the Border, Ben has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

James Wegmann, a Sasse spokesman, said the senator is “grateful for the president’s kind words.”

“They don’t always see eye to eye, but they’ve built a relationship where they work together when they agree and they wrestle hard when they don’t,” he said. “That’s a good thing.”

Sasse had previously been intensely critical of Trump, even going so far as to say he didn’t vote for him in 2016. Trump’s trade policies in particular have drawn Sasse’s condemnation.

But Sasse has pulled back on criticism recently and has said he will support the Republican ticket for president. In particular, he’s touted his votes for Trump’s judicial appointees.

Still, Sasse was the only top Republican in the state not listed among Trump’s Nebraska honorary co-chairs.

And he’s drawn a Republican challenger, Matt Innis, a Lincoln businessman who had made Sasse’s lack of endorsement of Trump a key campaign issue.

The president’s explicit endorsement of Sasse represents a heavy blow to that Trump-based message, but Innis showed no signs Tuesday night that he plans to abandon his campaign.

“This doesn’t change anything,” Innis told The World-Herald after the president’s tweet.

Innis said that while Sasse says he will support the “Republican ticket,” the senator has not actually endorsed the president or said whether he will vote for him in 2020.

And the challenger indicated he will continue to highlight Sasse’s criticisms of Trump and other issues, such as Sasse leaving the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“I still think Nebraskans are going to reject Ben Sasse in all of this,” he said.

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Reporter - Politics/Washington D.C.

Joseph Morton is The World-Herald Washington Bureau Chief. Morton joined The World-Herald in 1999 and has been reporting from Washington for the newspaper since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @MortonOWH. Email:joseph.morton@owh.com

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