Lindell Strongly Denies Endorsing Renacci in Ohio Governor Race

Mike Lindell Jim Renacci Endorsement Retraction Republicans
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell insisted that an announcement that he had endorsed former GOP Congressman Jim Renacci's campaign for Ohio governor was "fake news." Lindell is pictured during a press conference in Des Moines, Iowa, on February 3, 2020. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has vehemently denied endorsing former Republican Congressman Jim Renacci's Ohio gubernatorial campaign.

On Friday, Renacci's campaign issued a press release saying that Lindell had "entered the Ohio Political Scene this week" by "endorsing Jim Renacci" in his quest to unseat current Republican Governor Mike DeWine, whom the campaign described as a "RINO," or "Republican in name only." However, the endorsement was thrown into doubt within hours, with Lindell issuing a denial during a Facebook Live video session.

Lindell told Newsweek that there's "no way" he would be backing Renacci after finding that the endorsement press release was still on the Ohio Republican's campaign website on Monday evening.

Lindell said that he had discussed a possible endorsement with Renacci's running mate Joe Knopp before the announcement was made but told him to wait until he could meet with Renacci to be certain that the gubernatorial candidate believed in unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 presidential election was "stolen" from former President Donald Trump.

"Now, for sure I will not be endorsing them at all, so thank you for getting me aware of that, that's very upsetting," Lindell said after being directed to the section of Renacci's website that included the press release. "There's no way I'm going to endorse him now because this is still up on his website. And they were told straight up that I had to meet them."

Lindell conceded that he may have told Knopp to go ahead with an endorsement before changing his mind and demanding that they first meet in person during an upcoming event in Ohio.

"Maybe when we were talking I said, 'go ahead and post, Joe, I trust you,' I do remember saying that," Lindell said. "[Then] I said 'let's wait'... because I asked Joe about how he felt about the 2020 election ... And he said, 'well, he's all for election integrity.' It just sounded weak, so I said no, tell him I want to meet him first."

Lindell said he was getting "all kinds of emails and texts from people that are saying 'why are you endorsing this guy when he thinks that anybody that thinks the election was stolen was all make believe' ... he believes that there was no election [fraud]."

"There's no way I'm going to endorse this guy for governor if he doesn't even believe the election was stolen," said Lindell.

A report from The Cincinnati Enquirer pointed out that Cincinnati-area chemist Douglas Frank, a fellow supporter of 2020 election fraud conspiracy theories, sent Lindell a series of texts expressing concerns that he would endorse "an establishment RINO who has been calling you a nutjob for over a year" just after the supposed endorsement was announced.

"Tell them I am not endorsing him !!!!" Lindell replied, according to a screenshot shared to Facebook by Frank. "I am not endorsing him Tell everyone that is fake news !!!!"

The press release posted to Renacci's campaign website, which was taken offline shortly after Lindell spoke to Newsweek, touted the MyPillow CEO's allegiance to Trump and adherence to "the MAGA agenda."

"I am glad to have the support and endorsement of a business leader like Mike Lindell, especially one who understands the importance of the MAGA agenda," Renacci said in a statement included in the release.

"Mike Lindell continues to be a warrior for America," added Knopp. "He was the most outspoken CEO supporting President Trump and now fully supporting Jim Renacci and I to return Ohio to a true conservative, Pro-Trump, Pro-life state."

Lindell first addressed his purported endorsement publicly during a Facebook Live session hours after the release was put out. Lindell insisted that the endorsement had been "misconstrued" based on him planning to attend an event in Ohio where Renacci would also be present.

"No, the Jim Ren-e-sha endorsement in Ohio, I did not endorse him," Lindell said, mispronouncing Renacci's name. "That is not true, there was a big misconstrue ... What they did there, I'm speaking in Ohio. He is going to that event. People are doing this to me now."

"People were misconstrued," he added. "There was a lot of confusion. Somebody put it out there ... So that is not true with Jim Ren-a-she or Ren-a-key endorsement, that is not true."

Soon after Lindell's endorsement denial, Renacci campaign adviser Brad Parscale, an ex-Trump campaign manager, indicated that the campaign had been authorized to issue the endorsement and questioned whether Lindell was "an honorable man."

Parscale posted to Facebook apparent screen captures of text messages between Lindell and Knopp, one of which appears to show Lindell telling Knopp, "Yes Joe for sure get the word out that you guys have my endorsement."

"Well I thought Mike Lindell was an honorable man," Parscale wrote alongside the screen captures. "I was wrong. Giving your word to someone and then calling them a liar is the worst. Especially a friend."

"Mike, sad to see what you have become," he added. "This is what disgusts me, just pure self interest. This isn't MAGA, this is self preservation. Just makes me fight harder and see the real fakes."

When Newsweek pointed out the texts that Parscale had shared to Facebook on Monday, Lindell said that there had been "confusion" over the exchange and that he and Knopp had spoken over the phone as well as text messages before the announcement was made.

"The last message to Joe was, 'Joe I'm not endorsing, if you said anything to Renacci, you tell him I have to meet him first. This has to stop if he doesn't believe in that election [fraud]," said Lindell. "So I go, 'don't post anything, I want to meet him first in Ohio.' And that's how we left it."

"[Knopp] said, 'Mike, I'll make sure there's nothing posted," Lindell added. "And now I see this [press release] ... This thing will be coming down."

Renacci is one of at least three candidates challenging DeWine in the GOP primary. Like Lindell, Trump has yet to endorse any candidate.