GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy said Sunday that he believes if the Republican Party focuses on former President Donald Trump to win back seats in 2022 and the presidency in 2024, “we will lose.”
“If we idolize one person, we will lose,” Cassidy told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.” “And that’s kind of clear from the last election.”
Cassidy, a moderate, was one of seven GOP senators who joined all Senate Democrats in voting to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, but the 57 guilty votes fell well-short of the 67 needed to convict the former President, resulting in his acquittal on the charge of inciting the January 6 insurrection.
The Louisiana Republican said he believes the Republican Party should be focusing on issues that can win back voters, not Trump.
“If we plan to win in 2022 and 2024, we have to listen to the voters. Not just those who really like President Trump, but perhaps those who are less sure,” he said. “If we speak to the voters who are less sure that went from President Trump to President Biden, we win. If we don’t, we lose. That is a reality that we have to confront.”
Trump is slated to address activists Sunday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, as he seeks to shape the future of the party and target Republicans he views as disloyal.
Trump will deliver a Sunday afternoon speech — one in which he is expected to continue to falsely claim that the presidential election was stolen — that will mark his first public comments since leaving the White House.
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of 10 House Republicans who voted in January to impeach Trump, said Sunday the GOP is not united and that he expects the former President will use fear as a motivator for votes during the CPAC speech.
“We may be united in some areas … I think in terms of what is our vision for the future, certainly not united,” Kinzinger told CBS’ Margaret Brennan. “To win a narrative in a party, you have to present a competing alternative narrative when you only hear from Donald Trump. And when people walk around in fear of his tweets or his comments or they use his fear to peddle, win reelection, of course he is going to motivate people.”
Asked on “State of the Union” by Bash if he would support Trump if he were the GOP nominee in 2024, Cassidy responded that he doesn’t think Trump will be the nominee, bringing up his age — he would be 78 in 2024 — and the priorities of voters.
“I don’t think he’ll be our nominee for the reasons we said,” Cassidy said.
When pushed by Bash on whether he believes Trump is fit to be President, Cassidy responded, “I don’t mean to duck, but you can ask me if a lot of people are fit, point is I don’t think he will be our nominee for all the reasons I described.”
This story has been updated with additional developments.