The founder and national president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a prominent anti-abortion political advocacy group, tweeted Wednesday morning that she was meeting with "US Senate candidate" Josh Hawley "in a few minutes," before deleting the tweet.
It is the latest indication that Hawley, Missouri's newly seated attorney general, is in fact preparing to seek the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., next year.
Hawley, who has been wooed by party leaders, has so far declined to publicly declare himself a candidate. But Marjorie Dannenfelser, Susan B. Anthony List's president, seems to believe he's in the race.
In a tweet posted at 10:25 a.m. Central Standard Time Wednesday, Dannenfelser wrote: "Meeting with MO US Senate candidate AG Josh Hawley in a few minutes."
The tweet was gone from her Twitter account (@marjoriesba) a short time later, but the Post-Dispatch has obtained a screenshot:
"(I) can confirm that yes, Marjorie did meet with Josh Hawley today to discuss the special pro-life session called by Gov. (Eric) Greitens," Mallory Quigley, spokesperson for the Susan B. Anthony List, wrote in a statement to the Post-Dispatch.
"She did initially tweet about the meeting but deleted it because it was inaccurate as the Attorney General is not a candidate for office," Quigley confirmed, adding: "Marjorie certainly did encourage him to run for U.S. Senate."
It isn't necessarily unusual for Hawley, a legal scholar who is well known in national conservative circles, to meet with someone like Dannenfelser. However, her description of him as a "candidate," and her subsequent deletion of the post, could be the latest indication that Hawley has already decided to run but doesn't want it out yet.
As Hawley "considers becoming a candidate for United States Senate," he has met with various leaders in Washington and elsewhere, spokesman Scott Paradise said in a written statement in response to the newspaper's questions about the Dannenfelser meeting.
Among the issues Hawley will have to address if he does run for the Senate is the fact that, in his first-ever political campaign last year to win his current position as attorney general, he criticized professional politicians for barely settling into one office before reaching for another.
"Jefferson City is full of career politicians just climbing the ladder, using one office to get another," Hawley said in a campaign video last year on the topic, before winning the election and being seated in January. "...I think you deserve better."
The Post-Dispatch reported this week that Hawley's state campaign fund, left over from that attorney general campaign, has spent heavily since January on promotional media of the kind that usually is done during the run-up to an election, not in the aftermath of it.
McCaskill is seeking a third term in the Senate and is viewed as a top target for the GOP, based on Missouri's swing to the right since she first took office and President Donald Trump's strong showing in the state last November.
Several candidates in addition to Hawley are either considering seeking the GOP nomination or have already announced, including state Rep. Paul Curtman, a Republican from Franklin County; Mizzou economics professor Aaron Hedlund; former Missouri Republican Party Chairman Ed Martin; retired Air Force pilot Tony Monetti of Warrensburg; Austin Petersen of Kansas City, who ran for president last year as a Libertarian; and Missouri state Treasurer Eric Schmitt.