Home Trump blasts Sasse for predicting Senate Republican bloodbath | US news

Trump blasts Sasse for predicting Senate Republican bloodbath | US news

Down in the polls to Joe Biden and campaigning through a surging pandemic, Donald Trump chose to devote time on Saturday morning to a Twitter rant against a member of his own party in the Senate, a chamber Republicans face losing on 3 November.

The president called Ben Sasse “little”, “the least effective of our 53 Republican senators”, “rather stupid and obnoxious” and “an embarrassment to the great state of Nebraska”.

“Other than that,” Trump concluded, “he’s just a wonderful guy!”

Sasse’s crime was to have criticised Trump in robust terms on a call with constituents first reported by the Washington Examiner, saying the president “kisses dictators’ butts” and “flirts with white supremacists”.

“I’m now looking at the possibility of a Republican bloodbath in the Senate, and that’s why I’ve never been on the Trump train,” Sasse said.

This week, analysts at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia predicted Senate Democrats would earn “a net gain of between one and eight seats … enough to give them a small majority”.

Sasse, 48, a libertarian-tinged conservative widely thought to be eyeing a presidential run in 2024, is a shoo-in for re-election. In 2018 he published a book-length appeal for civility across the aisle, Them: Why We Hate Each Other – and How to Heal.

But critics scoffed at his claim never to have “never been on the Trump train” – he has voted with the Trump White House 87% of the time, and joined the rest of his party except Mitt Romney in voting to acquit Trump on both impeachment charges.

Speaking to constituents, Sasse criticised Trump for treating the coronavirus pandemic “like a PR crisis” and said the president “kisses dictators’ butts [and] mocks evangelicals behind closed doors”.

“His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity,” Sasse said. “He’s flirted with white supremacists.”

Evidence for such charges is plentiful. But Trump also pointed at hard political truths, as he highlighted the fate of other senators who have turned against him.

“Senator Sasse was as nice as a RINO [Republican in Name Only] can be until he recently won the Republican nomination to run for a second term,” Trump wrote. “Then he went back to his rather stupid and obnoxious ways. Must feel he can’t lose to a Democrat.”

Trump later added that Sasse “seems to be heading down the same inglorious path as former senators Liddle’ Bob Corker … and Jeff ‘the Flake’ Flake”.

Corker, from Tennessee, was once considered as a running mate or secretary of state but ended up comparing Trump’s White House to an “adult daycare centre” and retiring in 2018. Flake, of Arizona, also stepped down that year.

Trump said both were “totally unelectable, couldn’t come even close to winning their primaries, and decided to drop out of politics and gracefully ‘RETIRE’. Sasse could be next, or perhaps the Republicans should find a new and more viable candidate?”

That will not happen. Nonetheless, on Friday, the conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin lambasted Sasse for not opposing Trump in public.

“He has remained silent when his countrymen needed candor,” Rubin wrote.

“Sasse has not publicly come to the defense of Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, in the face of Trump’s attacks. He has not warned governors not to follow Trump’s recommendations on the pandemic, or admonished the White House for eschewing masks and social distancing, or spoken out about Trump’s conduct once the president was infected, or leveled in any meaningful way with the American people about Trump’s racism and contempt for religion.

“One must conclude that sheer cowardice and a yen to remain in office (requiring he avoid the wrath of the MAGA crowd) account for his reticence. As with every other silent Republican in this era, personal ambition won out over obligation to the country and the constitution.”

On Saturday James Wegmann, a spokesman for Sasse, claimed: “Ben said the same thing to Nebraskans that he has repeatedly said to the president directly in the Oval Office. Ben is focused on defending the Republican Senate majority, and he’s not going to waste a single minute on tweets.”

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