AIR FORCE ONE — President Trump told reporters Thursday evening that he was considering Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.) as his permanent director of national intelligence — a move that Collins shot down a few hours later.

The move not only would fill a post that has not been permanently filled since Daniel Coats resigned last summer, but would help Trump and his fellow Republicans avoid what is already shaping up to be a messy intraparty fight for the Georgia Senate seat, where Collins is running against Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a special election in November.

Collins is just one of several candidates he’s considering, said the president, who spoke to reporters as he flew from Colorado to Nevada as part of a four-day swing out West.

During a television appearance Friday morning, Collins said it was “humbling” to be among those considered by Trump, but he said he doesn’t want the job.

“This is not a job that interests me at this time, it’s not one that I would accept because I’m running a Senate race down here in Georgia,” Collins said on Fox Business Network during an interview in which he emphasized his longtime support for the president.

“I’m sure the president will pick somebody appropriate for that job,” Collins said of the intelligence post.

In a tweet a few hours later, Trump made no mention of Collins.

“Four great candidates are under consideration at DNI,” he wrote. “Decision within next few weeks!”

Earlier this week, Trump announced that Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, would replace Joseph Maguire as the acting intelligence director. But both Trump and Grenell have said he is not expected to become the permanent chief, a post that requires Senate confirmation.

Collins has been a vocal and loyal defender of the president, including through impeachment, but his decision to run against Loeffler infuriated many in his party. Loeffler, too, emerged as a strong Trump loyalist during impeachment and sharply criticized Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) — to whom she and her husband had previously donated money — for voting both to call witnesses and also to convict Trump in his Senate impeachment trial.

But a Collins nomination would also certainly infuriate critics of the president, who believe the agency should not be run by a clear partisan.

As news spread on Twitter on Thursday night, Jennifer Granholm, the former Democratic governor of Michigan, shared her disapproval.

“Of course — solves a Senate primary problem for him in Georgia, and places another rabid partisan at DNI,” she wrote. “You’re welcome, Putin.”

Wagner reported from Washington.