Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said Friday former President Donald Trump should not be the 2024 Republican nominee, but Thursday polling suggests otherwise.
Toomey told CNBC:
I think that the future of our party is to be a party of ideas, and not to be a party about any one individual, and I think we will learn a lot from the next set of primaries. I think after what happened post-2020 election, I think the president’s behavior was completely unacceptable, so I don’t think he should be the nominee to lead the party in 2024.
When challenged on whether he is a conservative fighter who puts American first and not globalist interests, Toomey responded that he is “a conservative Republican by any objective measure… by looking at my views compared to that of a traditional conservative Republican.”
Toomey then faulted Trump for reshaping the party into a workers party that is interested in raising wages, stopping illegal immigration, allowing school choice, and defeating China’s powerful rise.
Toomey admitted his brand of republicanism that failed to win votes during the Obama era:
It is President Trump who departed from Republican orthodoxy and conservative orthodoxy in a variety of ways. I stuck to the conservative views that I’ve had for a long time, he had a different point of view on matters such as trade and sometimes immigration and other things.
Moving from one point to another, Toomey then began criticizing Trump for his Afghan policy of withdrawing U.S. forces with contingencies:
My view is we had gotten to a point, and we could have sustained a very modest presence on the ground, extremely low rate of casualties, and we hadn’t had a death in Afghanistan in well over a year, a modest cost monetarily. For that price, we would have supported the Afghans who were actually the tip of the spear, the ones fighting, and could have prevented the re-emergence of terrorists from a Taliban-controlled state.
Polling from Thursday contradicts Toomey’s beliefs that Trump should not be the 2024 nominee. Emerson College polling indicates Trump holds a one point lead over Biden in a hypothetical presidential matchup (47-46).
In a head to head matchup, Trump is the only Republican to poll better than Biden out of all other potential Republican contenders. For example, if Biden were to face DeSantis in 2024, Emerson suggests DeSantis would fall short of Biden by 12 points (36-48 percent).
According to Emerson, if Trump does not run, DeSantis would have a 22 percent better chance of winning the nomination. The same holds true for former Vice President Mike Pence, who would receive an 18 point boost with Trump out of the primary.
The same poll also suggests voters blame Biden for losing the war in Afghanistan and not Trump. The poll literature explains:
For three Presidents (Bush, Obama, and Biden), the voters see these presidents as responsible for the U.S. losing the war, compared to the voters who saw Trump as responsible, who see his actions as why the US won the war.
Toomey’s dislike for Trump perhaps originally stems from a difference on trade policy; Toomey favors more globalist trade policies that Trump has argued do not benefit the American worker. For instance, Toomey said in 2016 he believes taxing imported goods from abroad is a bad idea, a lever Trump supported. Toomey explained:
To the extent that he can improve existing trade agreements from the American point of view, that’s great, I’ll be in favor of that. But if anyone comes along and says we should put a 40 percent tax on imported goods, that’s a very bad idea, and I’ll oppose it.
But that did not stop Trump from putting America first, as the president would perhaps label his trade policy. In January 2020, the Trump administration imposed tariffs on 16.8 percent of all goods imported into the United States, infuriating Toomey.
As such, Toomey voted to impeach Trump in 2021 with six other Republican Senators for Trump’s perceived influence on the January 6 Capital Hill riot.
“A lawless attempt to retain power by a president was one of the founders’ greatest fears,” Toomey said after the voting, “His betrayal of the Constitution and his oath of office required conviction.”
In response to Toomey’s vote, several in Pennsylvania county voted to censure Toomey to show their support for Trump. But Toomey had already declared in October he would not run for reelection.
It should be noted Toomey most likely won reelection in 2016 on the back of Trump carrying the state.
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø
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