Senate Republicans, one of the largest-known invertebrates in the animal kingdom, would very much not like to talk about whether or not they’ll endorse President Donald Trump for a second term.
The Hill spent some time this week chasing down GOP senators in the halls of Congress to ask them whether or not they’d back a second Trump term. The overwhelming majority have voted for some of the most despicable legislation backed by the White House, but as for the man himself? Well, they’re just not ready to go there.
“Why did you ask me that?” retiring Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts told the Hill, before reverting to a resounding: “Yeah, sure.” Meanwhile, Maine Sen. Susan Collins—who’s a top Democratic target in 2020 considering her vote for Brett Kavanaugh and the overall deterioration of the Republican Party in Maine and New England—told the Hill that “I said I was going to worry about 2020 in 2020.” Collins told PBS Newshour just as much earlier this week, although she also said that she “can’t imagine that I would endorse any of the Democrats who are running right now.”
A story like this wouldn’t be complete, of course, without a profile in courage involving Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, who himself has been rumored as a potential primary challenger to Trump. Per the Hill:
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who has frequently criticized Trump on foreign policy and trade issues, said, “I don’t talk about stuff like that right here” when asked outside the Senate chamber about whether he would endorse Trump.
That’s right. Don’t you dare bring petty partisan politics into the, uh, United States Senate???
Some Republicans, however, didn’t shy away from Trump. Sens. Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis, and Joni Ernst—all of whom represent states which Hillary Clinton either won in 2016 or saw significant Democratic gains in last year’s elections—all endorsed the president for a second term, as did Georgia Sen. David Perdue, whom former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is rumored to be weighing a bid against.
“I would discourage anybody from running against him in a primary,” Tillis, a North Carolina senator who pioneered GOP authoritarianism while serving as speaker of that state’s House of Representatives, told the Hill. “If you take a look at his policies on tax reform, if you take a look at his priorities on trying to get health care to a place where it will work...On substance I’m with him.”
You almost—emphasis on almost—have to respect it more when they just come out and pledge their allegiance to Trump. As history showed us in 2016, the geniuses at the highest level of the Republican Party will absolutely always fall in line behind their nominees—even if that nominee has been accused by over a dozen women of sexual harassment and/or assault, and even if that nominee’s most prominent qualities are the racism of Steve King and the critical thinking capacity of a half-eaten chicken sandwich.
Yet another reason why, contrary to what the most powerful Democrat in the country thinks, we don’t actually “need a strong Republican Party, not a rubber stamp.” The rubber stamp, so long as it rests on the GOP’s core ideals of loving war and hating the poor, is the whole thing.