Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse has never been a big fan of Donald Trump. In fact, he has bitterly criticized the president on many occasions and on many issues.
But he’s voted with Trump nearly 88 percent of the time. And he refused to vote to convict Trump during his impeachment. That doesn’t count for much in Trumpworld — especially after Sasse let loose a barrage of denunciations during a telephone town hall.
Sasse is up for re-election and is not in any serious trouble. Even so, an incumbent senator running for re-election normally embraces an incumbent president so he can ride his coattails to victory.
Mr. Sasse has other ideas.
Trump has “flirted with white supremacists,” according to Sasse, and his family “treated the presidency like a business opportunity.” He said Trump could drive the Senate into the hand of the Democrats and cause permanent damage to the Republican Party.
Sasse, a possible GOP candidate for president in 2024, is up for reelection on Nov. 3 and is expected to cruise to victory.
That pretty much explains going off the GOP reservation right there. Sasse thinks that Republicans are going to want a candidate with anti-Trump credentials in 2024. He is expecting the president to lose and the Republican Party to disown him.
What universe will that happen in, senator?
In an audio clip of the call, obtained by the Washington Examiner, a female constituent asks Sasse to explain “your relationship with the president” and wonders, “Why do you have to criticize him so much?”
At first, Sasse focused on his points of agreement with Trump. But the senator soon began to unload, spending the majority of his nearly ten-minute answer assailing the president.
What the anti-Trump and Never Trump crowds have never understood is the regular Republican embrace of the president. They don’t care whose butt he kisses. They care about whose butt he’s kicking. They don’t see Trump “flirting” with white supremacists. They see him defending rural white culture. They don’t want to vote for a pansy-ass, get-along-go-along Republican. They want war. They want blood.
They want Trump.
“I’m not at all apologetic for having fought for my values against his in places where I think his are deficient, not just for a Republican but for an American,” said Sasse, who then began ticking off a number of things he dislikes about the president. “The way he kisses dictators’ butts. I mean, the way he ignores that the Uighurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now. He hasn’t lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong Kongers.”
“The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor,” Sasse continued, adding that Trump “mocks evangelicals behind closed doors…has treated the presidency like a business opportunity” and has “flirted with white supremacists.”
Sasse has badly miscalculated if he thinks that, if Trump loses, the Republican Party will come to its senses and reject Donald Trump and all he represents. Trump acolytes are gaining seats in Congress, filling the ranks of think tanks and other Republican groups. His influence is vast and will continue to be felt long after he leaves office — willingly or not.
Ben Sasse has undermined his own cause with the parroting of Democratic talking points on Trump. If he’s aiming to be the candidate of the Never Trumpers in 2024 and get there by trashing Trump, he will lose.