How are we doing? How is Ted Budd doing? Trump asked North Carolina GOP Chair Michael Whatley to get Walker out of the race. Michael, get him out of the race.

Trump continued to support Budd. He tried to convince Walker to bow out of the race by dangling a House endorsement.

Walker, a former Baptist minister who was chair of the Republican Study Committee while in Congress, reiterated his intention to remain in the primary after Trump's comments to top Republican supporters. Walker's spot on the ballot is locked in because candidate filing in North Carolina has closed.

Neither Whatley nor a Trump representative gave a comment.

Budd has kept a low profile in recent weeks, including declining to participate in a Republican candidate debate, Walker has relied on his strong suit of retail politics to generate a flurry of local earned media coverage.

POLITICO obtained a February poll conducted for Walker's campaign that shows Budd falling 5 points since a January survey by the firm. According to the most recent poll, McCrory was at 35 percent, Budd was at 24 percent, Walker was at 17 percent, and Marjorie was at 3 percent. The poll found that 21 percent of voters are undecided.

A poll commissioned by Awake Carolina found Budd slipping even further. 35 percent are still undecided after the survey was conducted by Ingress Research Group. The firm had a margin of error of 3.3 percent in a poll of likely Republican primary voters.

Club for Growth Action has aired more than $4 million worth of ads since last year. Many criticized the candidate, who is portraying himself as a more moderate candidate, for being anti-Trump. As the pinch on Budd tightens, the group is now pouring millions more into ad buys, raising their initial pledge of $10 million to at least 14 million to support Budd.

Club for Growth is going to do what it takes to win, said Joe Kildea.

After months of attacks against him, he is hitting back. On Wednesday, the former governor is launching his first television ad in the race, a 30-second spot on Fox News that criticizes Budd over comments he made about Russian leader Putin.

Budd said in a recent TV interview that he would want to protect his southern.

The first of its kind in a Senate race this cycle, the spot seeks to portray Budd as sympathetic to Putin.

The ad says we need serious senators. I believe in truth and freedom.

Budd's campaign pushed back on the ad's characterization of his comments in the recent interview, in which Budd referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as evil and an international.

Jonathan Felts, an adviser to Budd, said in a statement to POLITICO that Governor McCrory has a long track-record of underestimating the opposition. In the general election in 2008, he lost his bid for governor and was elected in 2012 but lost reelection in 2016

Just like Obama and Biden, Governor McCrory seems determined to underestimate Putin. Ted Budd knows these are serious times that require strength, not the empty soundbites preferred by career politicians like Biden and McCrory, and he accurately described Putin as an evil, intelligent threat to be taken seriously.

The Putin line of attack could be effective, according to a survey done by a pollster for a Republican candidate.

When asked which country they would support in the war between Russia and Ukraine, 87 percent of GOP primary voters said Ukraine. Some people said they weren't sure. He thinks the anti-Russia sentiment is the same among voters.

Bolger said that Republican primary voters don't like politicians who are soft on Russia.

Alex Isenstadt contributed to the report.