LIVE

"If we idolize one person, we will lose," Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy told CNN

By Virginia Chamlee
March 01, 2021 03:24 PM
Advertisement
Sen. Bill Cassidy, Donald Trump
Sen. Bill Cassidy (left) and Donald Trump
| Credit: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty; Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty

Donald Trump hasn't ruled out running again in 2024 and he remains popular with Republican voters — but Sen. Bill Cassidy, at least, doesn't think he'll clinch the nomination.

In a new example of the ongoing divisions in the GOP over Trump's future, the Louisiana Republican predicted on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday that Trump won't be his party's nominee during the next presidential election cycle.

"He'll be 78 years old [in 2024]. I don't think he'll be our nominee," Cassidy said. (Joe Biden, is currently the oldest U.S. president at 78 years old; Trump was the second oldest.)

Cassidy told CNN's Dana Bash that "we've got to win in two years. We've got to win in four years."

"If we do that, we'll do that by speaking to those issues that are important to the American people ... not by putting one person on a pedestal and making that person our focal point," Cassidy said.

"If we idolize one person, we will lose," he said. "And that's kind of clear from the last election."

In his first public appearance since leaving office on Jan. 20, Trump held off on definitively declaring his candidacy in 2024, though he said it was a possibility.

"Who knows? I may even decide to beat them for a third time," Trump, 74, said in his Sunday remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida.

Despite Trump's pull — and, as CNN noted, his continued influence was on full display at CPAC — Cassidy argued that "CPAC is not the entirety of the Republican Party."

Cassidy, who was among the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial, laid much of the blame for the GOP's political losses squarely at Trump's feet.

"Political organizations and campaigns are about winning. Over the last four years, we've lost the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the presidency," he said on CNN. "That has not happened in a single four years under a president since Herbert Hoover."

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have denounced Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, in which five people died.

But many Republicans have waffled on Trump's continued relevance to the party and to conservative voters. At the same time, Trump has indicated he plans to play a key role in the GOP's near future, including the 2022 midterms where he hopes to see his critics booted from office.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted to acquit Trump in his last Senate trial and then gave a speech excoriating his behavior around the Capitol riot.

Last week, however, McConnell said that he would "absolutely" support Trump should he be named the Republican nominee in 2024. (McConnell, 79, said he felt the race was still wide open though.)

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Utah senator and former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said that Trump "has by far the largest voice and a big impact in my party."

Romney, 73, added: "I expect he will continue playing a role. I don't know if he'll run in 2024 or not, but if he does I'm pretty sure he will win the nomination."

The vocal Trump critic (who once met with the former president about potentially taking the role of secretary of state) added that he would not lend his support to a future Trump campaign.

He said he would "not be voting for President Trump again — I haven't voted for him in the past — and I would probably be getting behind somebody who I thought more represented the tiny wing of the Republican Party that I represent."

Rep. Liz Cheney, who chairs the House Republican Conference and who voted in favor of Trump's impeachment, recently told reporters, "I don't believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country."

But the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, has continued to show support for Trump.

Indeed, at a recent press conference Cheney and McCarthy gave opposite answers about whether Trump should have spoken at CPAC.