Sasse delivered a breathtaking nine-minute assessment of Trump on Wednesday, at a town hall call with thousands of voters in Nebraska. His office confirmed the remarks made on the call, which were first leaked to the Washington Examiner.
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“We are watching the cannon of a blue tsunami,” Sasse said, while expressing fears Democrats could take control of the Senate after November 3. “I’m afraid that if President Trump loses, which seems likely, he’s going to bring down the Senate with him.
The tirade began after Sasse was asked about his relationship with Trump.
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“Why do you have to criticize him so much?” asked a voter during the call.
Sasse said he agreed with Trump on several policy issues, but had a lot of issues with the president’s values. Sasse then made a long list of his issues with Trump, including the president’s failure to protect Hong Kong and China’s Uyghurs, his treatment of women, and his refusal to condemn white supremacist groups.
“The United States is now regularly selling our allies under his leadership,” Sasse said. “He makes fun of evangelicals behind closed doors. His family treated the presidency as a business opportunity. He flirted with white supremacists.
Sasse accused Trump of treating the coronavirus pandemic as a “news cycle public relations crisis” instead of a multi-year public health challenge. However, he also criticized the media coverage for allegedly trying to place the pandemic on Trump alone.
“I think he did some things right and wrong, and I was honest about that,” he said. He acknowledged that Trump had taken several classically Republican political steps, such as appointing numerous conservative judges. He added that he had worked hard to have a good working relationship with the president, despite their differences.
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However, he said Republicans might come to regret supporting Trump for the long term, especially if they lose a generation of young people and women to the Democratic Party.
“It’s gonna be, what the hell did they think selling a narcissistic, TV-obsessed individual to the American people was a good idea?” ” he said. ” It’s not a good idea. ”
He also voiced concerns that a Democratic-led Senate would add new states, remove filibuster and adopt the style of the Supreme Court in Venezuela.
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Trump has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and complained about his G7 allies, including Canada. He also downplayed the threat of COVID-19, avoided condemning far-right Proud Boys, allegedly supported the detention of Uyghurs in China and plunged the country deeper into debt.
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Sasse has criticized Trump in the past, but toned down his rhetoric ahead of the Nebraska primaries earlier this year. Trump has approved Sasse for this primary.
Many Republicans who once criticized Trump, including Senators Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, have become some of his strongest supporters.
However, the GOP’s so-called “never Trump” movement came back in force ahead of the 2020 election, with groups like the Lincoln Project launching widespread attacks on social media aimed at bringing down the president.
Sasse is not a part of Project Lincoln, although he cited Abraham Lincoln as an ideal the Republican Party should aspire to.
Two other Nebraska Republicans, U.S. Representative Dan Bacon and GOP Executive Director Ryan Hamilton, told the Omaha World-Herald that they disagreed with Sasse’s characterizations of the president.
“Senator Sasse is entitled to his own opinion,” US Representative Adrian Smith, another Republican from Nebraska, said in a statement. “I appreciate what President Trump has accomplished for our country and will continue to work with him on efforts that help Nebraska.”
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh declined to comment on Sasse’s comments, according to the World-Herald.
Sasse has stepped up his boldness in recent months as he looks set to be heading for another election victory.
“I am not at all sorry to have fought for my values against his where I think his are lacking, not just for a Republican but for an American,” he said.
He added that he and his family are praying for Trump “at the breakfast table in our house.”
– With files from The Associated Press
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