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Sen. Roger Wicker Weighs In On Key Senate Races, Battleground States

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Next we go to Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker. He's chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Welcome to the program, Senator.

ROGER WICKER: Thank you, and it's great to be with you.

CORNISH: Now, you endorsed Donald Trump in May, but many of your colleagues have been slow or even failed to endorse him formally. What do you think are going to be the consequences of that?

WICKER: Well, I think they based it - the decision that they made based on their constituencies. And frankly I think our senators - our mostly incumbent candidates are running tonight, and I think they're pretty well in touch with where they need to be back home. I think that's why we'll do pretty well tonight.

CORNISH: Was that the message from the committee - essentially run your own local race; don't fight with the ticket, the top of the ticket?

WICKER: Well, we did feel that in states as different as, say, Kentucky and New Hampshire, you have to have your own message and also basically your own approach to governing. I think the Republican Party is a big center-right party. But I think it's perfectly fine for senators to tailor their philosophies to the folks they represent.

CORNISH: As it stands right now, are you confident that Republicans will keep control of the Senate?

WICKER: Well, from early returns, I'm feeling pretty good. I do disagree with Claire McCaskill. I think Roy Blunt, a very fine senator and a member of the leadership, will be re-elected in Missouri. We have early returns from Indiana. I'm told that the Democrats don't think former Senator Evan Bayh can make up the early deficit in that race. I think Todd Young will be elected the new Republican senator from Indiana (inaudible).

CORNISH: So a bright spot there.

WICKER: Marco Rubio is running ahead of Donald Trump in about 10 points in south Florida. So all I can tell you is what we're seeing from the returns. I don't want to speculate on polls and models. But from the actual votes we've seen, we're tickled about the three early projections. We feel real good about Indiana, and the early numbers in Florida are good.

CORNISH: That's Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Thank you for speaking with us.

WICKER: Thank you, Ma'am. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.