President Trump lashed out at Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., on Saturday, calling him “stupid and obnoxious” after he lambasted the president for his coronavirus response and accused him of being friendly with dictators and white supremacists.
“The least effective of our 53 Republican Senators, and a person who truly doesn’t have what it takes to be great, is Little Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a State which I have gladly done so much to help,” Trump tweeted on Saturday morning.
Trump’s comments come after Sasse harshly criticized Trump in a telephone conference call with constituents on Wednesday, according to audio obtained by the Washington Examiner. Both Republican officials are up for reelection in a little over two weeks.
During the call, Sasse was critical of Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the president first “ignored COVID.” “And then he went into full economic shutdown mode,” Sasse said. “He was the one who said 10 to 14 days of shutdown would fix this. And that was always wrong. So I don’t think the way he’s led through COVID has been reasonable or responsible, or right.”
Sasse also said Trump “kisses dictators’ butts,” spends “like a drunken sailor” and has “flirted with white supremacists,” the Examiner reported.
James Wegmann, a spokesman for Sasse, said Thursday on Twitter that the call was one of Sasse’s regular telephone town halls with Nebraska voters.
— James Wegmann (@jameswegmann) October 15, 2020
Trump’s tweets on Saturday appear to be a retort to Sasse’s criticism. But they also are striking as Trump’s campaign seeks to focus its attacks on Democrat Joe Biden and not Republicans like Sasse who have reservations about their party’s standard-bearer.
“[Sasse] was as nice as a RINO can be until he recently won the Republican Nomination to run for a second term,” Trump said, using an acronym to dismiss the conservative lawmaker as a Republican in name only. “Then he went back to his rather stupid and obnoxious ways. Must feel he can’t lose to a Dem. Little Ben is a liability to the Republican Party, and an embarrassment to the Great State of Nebraska. Other than that, he’s just a wonderful guy!”
When reached for comment on Trump’s remarks, Wegmann directed Yahoo News to his tweet from this morning:
“Ben said the same thing to Nebraskans that he has repeatedly said to the President directly in the Oval Office,” Wegmann said. “Ben is focused on defending the Republican Senate majority, and he’s not going to waste a single minute on tweets.”
Trump continued to attack Sasse with more tweets Saturday afternoon, warning that the Nebraskan was on an “inglorious path” and suggesting that Republican voters “perhaps” give him the boot.
....practically nothing. Both Senators became totally unelectable, couldn’t come even close to winning their primaries, and decided to drop out of politics and gracefully “RETIRE”. @SenSasse could be next, or perhaps the Republicans should find a new and more viable candidate?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2020
Sasse is yet another lawmaker facing Trump’s wrath who was earlier praised by the president. In September 2019, Trump tweeted that Sasse “has done a wonderful job representing the people of Nebraska. He is great with our Vets, the Military, and your very important Second Amendment. Strong on Crime and the Border, Ben has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”
Sasse is up for reelection on Nov. 3 but is expected to keep his seat amid a landscape that threatens the GOP Senate majority. The New York Times reported that Sasse is among other Republicans who are concerned that Trump could lose reelection and take the party down with him.
Thumbnail Credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP
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