Anxiety is growing among Republicans that President Donald Trump’s response to the protests over the death of George Floyd could cost the party its majority in the Senate in November.
With the election five months away, some Republicans fear that Trump’s hardline appeal to his base could cost votes in key Senate tossup states, as the party battles to maintain its majority.
There are currently 53 Republicans in the Senate and 47 Democrats, with polls showing four seats up for election in a virtual tossup, in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Maine.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has declared that winning over college graduates and women in the suburbs would be key to retaining the Senate majority in 2020.
Anxiety is growing among Republicans that President Donald Trump’s response to the protests over the death of George Floyd could cost the party its Senate majority
Demonstrators protest Saturday on 16th Street looking toward the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody
Now, Republicans fear that by playing to his base, Trump will alienate swing voters and hurt the party down-ballot.
‘The last week and a half has certainly raised the level of angst over the politics of the presidential race and consequences on the Senate. I think it’s just kind of become one thing after another. Initially the handling of COVID and now this,” one unnamed Republican senator told The Hill.
After protests descended into violence in multiple cities, Trump described himself as ‘your president of law and order’ and warned that the nation was ‘gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, or, arsonists, looters, criminals.’
Party divisions in the GOP erupted after retired Marine General James Mattis, Trump’s former secretary of defense, issued a stinging public rebuke of Trump, accusing the president of ‘abuse of executive authority’ to stage a ‘bizzare photo op’
‘Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,’ Mattis wrote in a statement published by The Atlantic.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Maine broke party ranks on Thursday to say she is struggling to decide whether she can support Trump’s re-election, and backing Mattis’ critique.
Mike D’angelo screams near a street sign that has been renamed ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza’ near the White House during a demonstration against racism and police brutality on Saturday
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Maine broke party ranks on Thursday to say she is struggling to decide whether she can support Trump’s re-election
Asked if she supported Trump, who faces the nation’s voters again in November, Murkowski said, ‘I am struggling with it. I have struggled with it for a long time.’
‘He is our duly elected president. I will continue to work with him … but I think right now as we are all struggling to find ways to express the words that need to be expressed appropriately,’ Murkowski told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Murkowski, who did not support Trump in 2016, praised the comments by former Pentagon chief Mattis.
‘I was really thankful. I thought General Mattis´ words were true, and honest, and necessary and overdue,’ Murkowski said.
In broadside on Twitter, Trump said he would campaign for anyone who opposes Murkowski in her 2022 re-election bid.
‘Get any candidate ready, good or bad, I don´t care, I´m endorsing. If you have a pulse, I´m with you!’ Trump said.
Another Republican, Senator Mitt Romney, also praised Mattis, saying his words were ‘stunning and powerful.’
Another Republican, Senator Mitt Romney, also praised Mattis, saying his words were ‘stunning and powerful’
Other Republican senators shrugged at his criticisms.
The retired Marine general was Trump’s first defense secretary but resigned over policy differences in 2018.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham acknowledged that Trump ‘can be a handful’ and can ‘do better,’ but said Trump had been unfairly targeted throughout his presidency and dismissed Mattis’ rebuke.
‘To General Mattis … you’re missing the fact that the liberal media has taken every event in the last 3-1/2 years and laid it at the president’s feet,’ Graham told Fox News.
Murkowski’s Republican colleague in Alaska, Sen. Dan Sullivan supports the president, he said in a statement to Reuters, adding that while he did not always agree with his fellow senator, he respected her and her views.
‘We work very well together and she is a good friend,’ he said.
Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican and a frequent Trump critic who is up for reelection, said, ‘I´m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the word of God as a political prop.’
Senator Susan Collins of Maine, one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans seeking reelection, said it was ‘painful to watch peaceful protesters to be subjected to tear gas in order for the president to go across the street to a church that I believe he’s attended only once.’
Senator Susan Collins of Maine, one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans seeking reelection, also criticized Trump over a staged photo op at St John’s church
‘President Trump´s walk to St. John’s was confrontational, at the wrong time of day, and it distracted from his important message in the Rose Garden about our national grief, racism, peaceful protests, and lawful assembly,’ added Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who is not on the ballot this year. ‘The President´s important message was drowned out by an awkward photo op.’
The president noticed, and name-checked the trio.
‘You got it wrong! If the protesters were so peaceful, why did they light the Church on fire the night before? People liked my walk to this historic place of worship!’ he tweeted Wednesday, suggesting that ‘Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. James Lankford, Sen. Ben Sasse’ read a specific article.
He took no such aim at Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the only black Republican in the Senate.
‘If your question is, should you use tear gas to clear a path so the president can go have a photo op, the answer is no,’ Scott told Politico.