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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 6:40 pm

Trump thanks Donnelly for right-to-try push

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is bound to get good campaign mileage from legislation he helped drive to enactment.

Donnelly was the lead co-sponsor of what has been called the "right to try" bill. It will allow terminally ill patients to use medical treatments that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Ever since President Donald Trump called Donnelly "the least effective Democratic lawmaker in the United States Senate" at a May 10 rally in Elkhart, Donnelly's staff and campaign have been touting his role in crafting bills that have reached Trump's desk for his signature.

And when Trump enacted the right-to-try bill Wednesday at the White House, Donnelly was in attendance.

After praising Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the sponsor of the right-to-try bill, Trump said to an off-camera Donnelly: "I also want to thank Senator Donnelly. Senator Donnelly, thank you very much. That's really great. Appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you."

Donnelly said later in a statement, “I was proud to join President Trump at the White House, as he signed my Right to Try bill into law."

Political Notebook is betting that video from the bill signing will turn up in a Donnelly campaign ad. He is being challenged in the general election by Republican Mike Braun, a Trump loyalist, in a state Trump carried by 19 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election.

Polling company Morning Consult reports that Trump was approved by 51 percent of registered voters in Indiana in April and disapproved by 45 percent. For the year's first quarter, Donnelly was approved by 42 percent of Hoosier voters and disapproved by 32 percent, with 26 percent undecided, according to Morning Consult.