Speed Reads

looking at 2018

Sen. Dean Heller is distancing himself from Trump's recent controversial decisions

As one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the Senate, Nevada's Dean Heller is trying to sidle away from President Trump when it comes to such issues as Trump's pardoning of former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio and his threat to shut down the government in order to fund his wall between the U.S. and Mexico border.

"I don't like shutting down the government," Heller said Monday during an interview with NBC News. "There will be no excuses and nobody else's fault but the Republican Party if this government does shut down." Heller said he is a strong supporter of border security, but argued that it doesn't make sense for there to be a physical wall along the entire border and it should be up to the Department of Homeland Security to decide what works best. On Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt after disregarding a judge's order to stop detaining people on suspicion of being undocumented, Heller said he doesn't believe "anybody's above the law. I do believe the courts ought to run its course and let the system work its way through this. But I just don't believe anybody's above the law."

Trump is also considering changing protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, and Heller said he is pushing for immigration reform but likes the DACA program and supports it. "I will certainly fight on behalf of the Hispanic and Latino communities to make sure these individuals aren't unfairly treated," he told NBC News. In the 2016 presidential election, more than 17 percent of the electorate in Nevada was Latino, and the state went for Democrat Hillary Clinton. Heller is up for re-election in 2018, facing a Trump supporter in the primary and possibly Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen in the general election.