The Corner

Politics & Policy

Jason Kander Talks Trump Video, Roy Blunt

Columbia, Mo. — Republicans are still trying to figure out just what the revelations about Donald Trump over the past five days portend for their other candidates on the ballot in November. But Democrats have quickly seized on the news, and Republican reactions to it, as political ammunition, attacking their GOP opponents for prioritizing personal political considerations above all else. What remains to be seen is whether those arguments will prove effective.

Here in Missouri, that dynamic is playing out slightly differently than in other states. In this Republican-leaning state, Trump is all but certain to win the presidential race, but the Senate race is tight, and both Republican senator Roy Blunt and his Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Jason Kander, need Trump voters to give them the victory. A Monmouth poll conducted Sunday through Tuesday, following the release of the video of Trump making crude sexual remarks about grabbing women inappropriately, found Blunt ahead of Kander 46 percent to 44 percent, a lead that falls within the poll’s margin of error. Blunt has not broken with his party’s presidential nominee, nor have most of the state’s Republican elected officials — it would politically foolish for them to do so. But Kander also has to be careful, as he, too, needs some Trump voters to split their tickets and vote for him.

So it’s not surprising that Kander takes a different tack than some other Democratic Senate hopefulswhen it comes to the Trump tape. The overall message of his campaign, as he tells it, has some echoes of Trump’s call for change and attack on Washington insiders: “Washington is broken,” Kander says, “and we’re not going to change Washington until we change the people we send there, and we need a new generation of leadership to do that.”

The 35-year-old army veteran sat down with National Review in a half empty coffee shop here the evening before the second presidential debate. He spoke about the Trump comments, Blunt’s reaction, and the state of the Senate race, among other things. What follows is a transcript of that part of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity.

National Review: What do you make of this Trump video?

Jason Kander: Look, actually, I think my mom kind of nailed it today. She’s in town. My son has a stomach bug and she’s here helping us out for the week. And my son’s name is True, so it’s her grandson obviously, and my mom said, ‘You know, how could we have somebody that’s president who, if True is at my house, and I’m watching the news, and the president comes on TV, I have to mute it so that he doesn’t go to school and say the same stuff he heard the president say and then get in trouble?’ And I bet there’s a whole lot of people feeling that way right now.

NR: Should Blunt have done more than call the remarks inappropriate?

JK: Obviously. I mean I guess maybe not. It’s obvious to me. Now look, Senator Blunt has a really long pattern of putting his party ahead of his country, and that’s what he’s doing here.

NR: But you need Trump voters to win.

JK: You know, what voters want is authenticity, and what they want is somebody who they know is telling them what they truly believe. And that is why in Missouri people go down the ballot and they make choices individually about each race. Right? It’s why you’ll see elections frequently where you go down the ballot and you see different parties win in different races right next to each other. So you know, look, Senator Blunt has clearly decided that voters who want to shake up a conversation that they see as gridlocked — and I mean, you know, you have gridlock in congress and now you have gridlock in our national conversation that mirrors the gridlock in congress — and that bothers all of us, of all parties and all generations. And I understand why there are a lot of folks that feel so strongly about shaking up that gridlock in the conversation that they are willing to consider supporting somebody like Donald Trump who’s not qualified for the job.

And then when somebody like Senator Blunt — who is exactly the type of person that Donald Trump is talking about when he’s talking about the problem in Washington — when somebody like him says that he still supports [Trump], voters absolutely know that that it is purely a political calculation on his part, and that that is him putting his party ahead of his country. And the difference between me and Senator Blunt is that if my party nominated somebody who was wholly unqualified and unfit to be president of the United States, I would vote for the other party’s candidate for president of the United States. And voters know that. And that’s why there are a lot of folks who support Donald Trump who also support me.

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