Exclusive — Rep. Jim Banks: Republicans Cannot ‘Erase Donald Trump’

Matthew Perdie, Jack Knudsen

ORLANDO, Florida — Republican Study Committee (RSC) chairman Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) told Breitbart News exclusively that Republicans cannot “erase Donald Trump” and be successful in future elections.

Banks, who spoke with Breitbart News at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) hosted by the American Conservative Union (ACU) this weekend, argued that the failed establishment voices of the past cannot “prevail” and that those who embrace Trump must succeed for the GOP to win again.

“I have a lot to say about where we’re going as a party and my biggest message is if some of the voices in the Republican Party, like Liz Cheney, prevail—and by the way this is a very limited number of members of the Republican Party—but if they prevail and erase Donald Trump and the voters who back President Trump from the Republican Party, we won’t win the majority in 2022 and we definitely won’t win the White House back in 2024,” Banks said. “But if we embrace the Trump agenda, and continue to be the party that advocates for traditional conservative values but also recognize that President Trump brought new issues into the fold in the agenda, I believe we’re going to be very successful moving forward.”

Banks said he does “really believe” that the future is bright for Republicans and conservatives if they take the right lessons away from what happened in November and focus on taking the good from what former President Donald Trump left behind for the GOP policy-wise into the future.

“Election night was not all bad. I mean, the presidential outcome—and we can talk about that for a long time, about the outcome at the White House—but the House Republicans won back a dozen or more seats, when all the prognosticators told us we were going to lose seats and go into a deeper minority,” Banks said. “But we got just a hair away from winning back the majority. I contend to you that was because Donald Trump was on the ballot and he brought with him millions of voters who wouldn’t otherwise vote Republican, but they came to support him. We need those voters to remain engaged in 2022 to win back the majority, and I believe they will be if the Republican Party stays on the right course. Those voters are going to put Donald Trump or another Republican back in the White House in 2024. We have to keep those voters engaged and CPAC understands this better than anywhere I’ve been. That’s why there’s so much optimism here, because you’re reflecting the voices that I believe are going to carry this party for the next generation. Those voices are well represented here at CPAC and I believe they understand exactly what we’re talking about.”

Banks then lit into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and President Joe Biden for their $1.9 trillion spending package passed in the middle of the night Friday night. The highly partisan bill, which passed the House with only Democrats supporting it, had bipartisan opposition in the lower chamber of Congress in large part, Banks said, because of its failures to meet the moment of addressing the coronavirus pandemic.

“There hasn’t been much of anything at all unifying coming out of the Biden administration since they took power on Jan. 20 or from the Democrats, who are as radical as they’ve ever been,” Banks said. “This is the most radical left-wing Democrat Party that we’ve ever seen. The stuff they’re going to push through, like this $1.9 trillion spending package passed in the middle of the night last night. They don’t want to talk about what’s in it. Notice that they’re not talking about what’s in this bill. There’s handouts for every special interest group that put Democrats in power, left-leaning organizations like Planned Parenthood and labor unions. There’s a bridge to Canada from New York, an earmark for Chuck Schumer, and there’s an underground tunnel in San Francisco for Silicon Valley workers for Nancy Pelosi—both totaling hundreds of millions of dollars that they would rather spend on goodies and handouts to their special interest groups rather than spending on kids who are suffering from their schools being shut down, emotionally and academically, and getting our schools reopened. They would rather spend money on those things instead.”

Banks also highlighted RSC efforts to refocus the GOP on issues that win for Republicans, from traditional conservative agenda items dating back to the Ronald Reagan era to new bold populist agenda items that Trump brought to the GOP.

“It’s going really well. When Republicans are focused on the issues—the differences between us and the radical Democrats—we win,” Banks said. “The Republican Study Committee is leading the way and charting the course and drafting this consensus conservative agenda. So far it’s been very successful to rally Republicans back together again. There are a few voices in our party who don’t agree, but for the most part the vast majority of us agree that if you take the values of Ronald Reagan, fiscal responsibility, policies that put American workers first economically, if we focus on being the party that believes in a strong national defense of peace through strength, which was the Reagan foreign policy and was also the Trump foreign policy, the pro-life party and protecting the Hyde Amendment and keeping our taxpayer dollars from going to fund abortion. Those are the traditional conservative issues, but we have to adapt to the moment too, and this is where President Trump becomes so important. He talks about how we have to take big tech and free speech censorship head on. We have to do it in a big way and the Republican Study Committee is going to lead those efforts. We have to restore trust in our elections through election integrity and security measures that RSC is leading the way on. We also need to be the party that holds China accountable. The Democrats have become the party of big business, they’ve become the pro-China party, the party of Silicon Valley and Wall Street. The Republicans, more than ever before, because of Donald Trump, are now the party of the working man and woman in this country. Polls show it. Last week, even CNN put out an article that shows we’ve gained a 12-percent advantage with working class voters that voted for Democrats but now they identify themselves as Republicans because of what Donald Trump did for this country and did for this party.”

When asked what a future presidential candidate for the GOP is going to need to do to win, Banks said they will need to champion “the Trump agenda.” He added that many of the potential presidential hopefuls on the GOP side are already working with the RSC on fleshing those issues out and charting a path forward for Republicans.

“You can call it whatever you want—you can call it the Trump populist agenda or just recognize these are policies that win over a vast majority of Americans, working class Americans,” Banks said. “The good news is Republicans have a deep bench and RSC is hearing from all of them. They’re all coming to RSC because we’re developing the substance and the agenda, an agenda that brings consensus on the right. Whether it’s strong immigration policies and building the wall, whether it’s taking on Big Tech and protecting our free speech, whether it’s restoring trust in our elections, or taking on China, the RSC is on the front lines of developing the agenda that a winning presidential candidate is going to adopt in 2024, and we’re hearing from all of them. I have my own favorites, but we’re hearing from a bunch of them, and you’re going to hear from a lot of them here at CPAC. We’re in Florida and I got to tell you after being here for just a day you got to put Ron DeSantis near the top of that list, because he’s providing great leadership in this state that our country desperately needs as well.”

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