Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) urged his fellow Republicans to move past former President Donald Trump on Sunday, predicting that due to the damage Trump has done to the GOP, he likely won’t be the party’s presidential nominee in 2024.
Hours before Trump was set to deliver his first post-White House speech at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, Cassidy appeared on CNN’s State of the Union to discuss the current state of the Republican Party and Trump’s place in it.
The Louisiana lawmaker, who was one of seven GOP senators to vote to convict Trump during the ex-president’s second impeachment trial earlier this month, called on the GOP to make issues and policy front and center in the coming elections.
“We’ve got to win in two years, we’ve got to win in four years,” Cassidy told host Dana Bash. “If we do that, we’ll do that by speaking to those issues important to the American people, and there’s a lot of issues important to them right now, not by putting one person on a pedestal and making that one person our focal point.”
Bash, meanwhile, noted that Trump’s influence on the party is not diminishing, despite his impeachment for allegedly inciting an insurrectionist riot at the U.S. Capitol. Pointing out that Trump’s face was literally “embronzed” at CPAC and top Republicans are flying down to meet the former president, the CNN host asked how the GOP can move forward with Trump still in the spotlight.
“CPAC is not the entirety of the Republican Party,” he replied. “That’s number one. Number two, political organizations and campaigns are about winning. Over the last four years, we lost the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the presidency. That has not happened in a single four years under a president since Herbert Hoover. If we plan to win in 2022 and 2024, we have to listen to the voters.”
Asked whether he was personally faulting Trump for the GOP losing control of Congress, Cassidy demurred somewhat, insisting again that Republicans need to speak to policy solutions. At the same time, he did say that if they “idolize one person, we will lose.”
Noting that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—who was highly critical of Trump’s role in the insurrection—has come out and said he will back Trump if he runs in 2024, Bash then pressed Cassidy on whether he feels Trump is fit to be president again.
“I don’t think—one, he’ll be 78 years old—but I don’t think he’ll be our nominee for the reasons I’ve said,” Cassidy responded. “Over the last four years, we’ve lost the House, the Senate, and the presidency. Political campaigns are about winning.”
“That’s a theoretical that I don’t think will come to pass," he concluded. “I don't mean to duck, but the truth is you could ask me [about] a lot of people, if they are fit. Point is, I don't think he’ll be our nominee.”