President Trump’s former White House doctor is touting his close ties to D.C. as he pitches himself to Texas voters in the 13th Congressional District.
“I just came from the White House. I’ve been working side by side with the president. I know all the cabinet secretaries. I have their cellphones. I know the chief of staff, the national security adviser,” Ronny Jackson, who is running for the House seat currently held by retiring GOP Rep. Mac Thornberry, said at a Harley-Davidson store in Wichita Falls during a candidate forum last week.
“I can pick the phone up, and I can call them,” he added. “They’re all friends of mine.”
Trump tapped the physician to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2018, a bid that was scuttled by charges of workplace misconduct. The president went to bat for Jackson, who cared for three presidents as West Wing physician, calling him “one of the finest people that I have met.” Jackson’s nomination stalled, and he withdrew when it became clear he would not be confirmed.
He announced his plan to run in the deep-red district soon after leaving the White House in December.
Sources familiar with Jackson’s thinking at the time told the New York Times that the doctor hoped his ties to Trump would push him ahead of his competition, a field of 15 devoutly conservative primary candidates. Jackson is working hard to translate his image as a Trump loyalist, and one who memorably praised the president’s “incredible genes,” to votes.
Stacked against his competitors at the forum, Jackson made the case that only he “can walk in the Oval Office unannounced and say, ‘Sir, I need you to stop what you’re doing and listen to me,’ and he will stop what he’s doing and listen to me.”
While the president has been silent on Jackson’s campaign, his son Eric Trump shared a message of support and is said to have encouraged his entrance into the race. A last-chance play from Trump allies has helped raise his profile somewhat.
Jackson also said the plans he laid out for Trump during an hourlong press conference while he was still at the White House did not come to fruition. His goals included the president dropping 10 to 15 pounds and a stationary bike or elliptical being added to the White House residence.
“The exercise stuff never took off as much as I wanted it to,” he said, hinting at the weight Trump has gained. “But, we were working on his diet. We were making the ice cream less accessible. We were putting cauliflower into the mashed potatoes.”