At the core of the president’s displeasure is his belief that Kemp has not kowtowed to him enough.
“Kemp stood out as a Republican governor who didn’t seem to think he needed Trump,” said a senior White House official. “He’s never shown a particular need to play ball with the president, which I think really irked Trump, so that’s kind of the origin of it.”
The roots of tension between the two extend to Trump’s 2018 endorsement of Kemp in his Republican primary against Casey Cagle, then the sitting lieutenant governor. Trump believed Kemp had not been sufficiently appreciative of his support, and Kemp had not realized how hard his allies had lobbied the president for his endorsement, according to people familiar with the episode.
But it was Kemp’s handling of his selection of Loeffler to fill Georgia’s empty Senate seat in late 2019 that particularly angered the president, culminating in the frosty White House meeting that November. Kemp never consulted Trump about the Senate seat when it first opened. And after Kemp created an online application process for the post, Trump complained privately that the Georgia governor was treating the process as if he was “hiring a truck driver,” according to an outside Republican in frequent contact with the White House.