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October 17, 2018

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Joe Heck struggles to answer on vote for Donald Trump

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Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Pool

U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., speaks during the Nevada Senatorial Debate at Canyon Springs High School on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, in North Las Vegas. The debate between Heck and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto was televised statewide.

WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Joe Heck is struggling on the question of Donald Trump's candidacy, saying he would be a good commander in chief but refusing to say whether he would vote for the presidential nominee.

The Nevada Senate candidate revoked his endorsement of Trump last month after an audio emerged of the billionaire businessman boasting of groping women, drawing boos from Republicans at a rally. On Tuesday, in an interview with KSNV-TV in Las Vegas, Heck said Trump is qualified to be president but couldn't answer on how he plans to vote.

"I think that if you meet the constitutional qualifications and you're selected by the Republican party then you're qualified to be president," Heck said.

Asked about Trump as commander in chief, the GOP congressman said he expected Trump to surround himself with good people "and so I think that between the two candidates Donald Trump will be a good commander in chief."

But, Heck still wouldn't say if he's voting for Trump.

"We still have six days before I walk into the booth ... We're going to wait and see what happens ... we're working through it but on Nov. 8 I'll have a decision."

Heck's muddled answer prompted the campaign to issue a statement hours later in which he tried to explain where he stands on Trump's candidacy.

"My position on the presidential race has not changed," Heck said. "I said 'I think whomever the next commander in chief is, they're going to need to surround themselves with military leaders that will provide them with the expert advice that they need to keep the country safe and make sure our men and women in uniform have the tools and the resources they need to do the jobs we asked them to do.'"

Heck said he would not support Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Heck is locked in a tight race with former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who has made Trump a central issue. They are competing for the Senate seat held by Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who is retiring at the end of the year.

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