Former GOP senator dismissed the party as 'a grotesque caricature' of its former self

  • Former Sen. John Danforth said that today’s GOP is “a grotesque caricature” of its former self.
  • Danforth expressed that the party is “in decline” in uncompetitive in swaths of the country.
  • He also said that Trump should be convicted in his upcoming Senate impeachment trial.
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In a recent PBS interview, former GOP Sen. John Danforth of Missouri said that today’s Republican Party is “a grotesque caricature” of its former self.

While speaking with political journalist Judy Woodruff, Danforth, who made waves in January when he expressed regret at supporting GOP Sen. Josh Hawley in the wake of the deadly January 6 Capitol riots, said that the party is “the opposite of what it had been.”

“America needs a strong, responsible conservative party,” he said. “That has been the Republican Party. It is neither strong, nor responsible, nor conservative today.”

He added: “It’s losing, I think, its grip on the country as a whole. It’s becoming increasingly a regional party. With almost no exceptions, the Northeast now is gone as far as the US Senate is concerned. The West Coast is completely gone.”

Republicans, who once boasted a sizeable moderate faction in the New England, have seen their support crater in the region over the past 20 years. At the moment, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is the only Republican in Congress representing New England.

On the West Coast, California has voted for every Democratic presidential nominee since 1992, while Oregon and Washington state haven’t voted for a Republican presidential nominee since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Danforth reiterated that the party is “in decline.”

“In the last two presidential elections, President Trump lost in 2016 by three million votes,” he said. “He lost in 2020 by seven million votes. We’re going in the wrong direction.”

Read more: Inside the 7-minute virtual workouts the Biden transition team used to stay connected as staffers prepared to demolish Trump’s policies

The former senator, who served in the upper chamber from 1976 to 1995, said that the party’s current messaging has strayed deeply from its roots.

“The worst thing is that we have become really kind of a grotesque caricature of what the Republican Party has traditionally been,” he said. “We were founded as the party of the union, of holding the country together. Now we have got on this populist tack, which is very much us against them.”

He added: “There are conspiracies out there involving liberals and corporations and big tech. They’re picking on you, the American people. You should resent this. You should feel your grievances. We feel them for you. And we’re going to continue to create wedges to drive Americans apart.”

Danforth, who recently called his support of Hawley’s 2018 campaign as “the worst mistake I ever made in my life,” continued to criticize the freshman senator’s actions for his role in the Capitol riots and contesting the electoral vote certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

“What Hawley did was to create an event,” Danforth said. “He announced that he was going to object, that he was going to make this into a big deal, and then he repeatedly said that the election was in doubt, that January 6 was going to be the decisive day, this wasn’t over yet.”

He added: “He appeared in front of the Capitol Building in that famous photograph encouraging what was going on. He claimed that all he was trying to do was to use the opportunity to speak. He didn’t speak. When Pennsylvania came up on the floor of the Senate, he remained in his chair.”

Danforth also said that former President Donald Trump should be convicted in his upcoming Senate impeachment trial for “incitement of insurrection” regarding the Capitol riots.

“If this — if what he did doesn’t warrant conviction, what does?,” he said. “I think anything other than a strong vote of conviction by Republicans is going to be viewed, rightly so, as condoning Trump.”

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