Cassidy said Republicans could triumph in the 2022 midterm elections as well as the 2024 White House race by “speaking to those issues that are important to the American people,” not “putting one person on a pedestal and making that one person our focal point.”
He added: “If we idolize one person, we will lose. And that’s kind of clear from the last election.”
The senator’s remarks stand in stark contrast to the fervently pro-Trump rhetoric that has been on display in recent days at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla. — where prominent Republican officials have promoted the former president as the future of the party and sought to embrace his legacy.
But the comments are not necessarily out of character for Cassidy, who surprised his party earlier this month by voting to proceed with Trump’s second impeachment trial and then became one of seven Republican senators to find him guilty of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
Republicans remain divided over Trump’s role in the party going forward, with a small group of more establishment-oriented GOP leaders ratcheting up their criticism of him in recent weeks.
But even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called the former president “morally and practically responsible” for the Capitol siege, said he would support Trump if he were Republicans’ next nominee for president.
And Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) also argued last week that Trump would easily win the GOP nomination if he seeks the White House again in 2024.