President Donald Trump sells out US allies, kisses dictators’ “butts”, mistreats women, mishandled the Covid-19 pandemic, flirts with white supremacists and could permanently drive young people away from the party.
That’s the damning indictment given by Republican Senator Ben Sasse during a private call with constituents in Nebraska this week.
In the recording of the call, which was leaked to the Washington Examiner newspaper, Mr Sasse – himself up for re-election on 3 November – began by listing areas where he was actually in agreement with Mr Trump, when asked about his relationship with the president by a female constituent.
He even said that he prays at the breakfast table every day for Mr Trump, the First Lady and the Vice President, Mike Pence.
But Mr Sasse said he was not at all apologetic for having differing values with Mr Trump in areas where the president’s are “deficient – not just for a Republican but for an American”.
He came down particularly hard on Mr Trump’s foreign policy stances, and gave a long list of areas where he thinks the president is lacking.
“The way he kisses dictators' butts. I mean, the way he ignores that the Uighurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang … 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. The ways I criticise[d] President Obama for that kind of spending, I've criticised President Trump for as well. He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He's flirted with white supremacists."
For the majority of the over nine-minute recording shared by the Examiner Mr Sasse dismantles Trump policies and the president’s working style, while warning about a Republican “blood bath” and defending his own decision of not being on the “Trump train”.
Mr Sasse said: "If young people become permanent Democrats because they've just been repulsed by the obsessive nature of our politics, or if women who were willing to still vote with the Republican party in 2016 decide that they need to turn away from this party permanently in the future, the debate is not going to be that – ‘Ben Sasse, why were you so mean to Trump’, it’s going to be what the heck any of us were thinking, that selling a television-obsessed narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea.
“It is not a good idea. I think we are staring down the barrel of a blue tsunami and we got to hold the Senate and that’s what we are focused on,” Mr Sasse said during the call.
Mr Sasse’s spokesman James Wegmann confirmed to the Examiner that the comments were made by the senator, saying “control of the Senate is 10 times more important” than the presidential race.
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