The Corner

Elections

Sasse Won’t Endorse Trump (Or Anyone Else) in 2020

Sen. Ben Sasse (right) during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 2017. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Last month, President Trump gave Nebraska GOP senator Ben Sasse his “Complete and Total Endorsement!” In an interview with National Review, Sasse says he won’t endorse Trump or any other candidate in 2020 so he can focus on his own race, but he is “supporting the Republican ticket.” It’s not entirely clear what “supporting the Republican ticket” means:

Surely the president wouldn’t have endorsed Sasse unless Sasse had promised to endorse the president in 2020?

No, Sasse tells me, he won’t be endorsing Trump or any other candidate in 2020.

“I’m not endorsing anyone in any race,” he says.

Our conversation moves on to other topics, including why Sasse, who often seems frustrated and bored with his job, even wants a second term (more on that in a minute). But as he gets up to leave at the end of our interview, I want to be sure I heard him correctly that he will not endorse any candidate in any race between now and November 2020. “That’s correct,” he says.

“The only asterisk I’d put on that is the socialism point I’m making,” Sasse adds. He begins talking about how Omaha’s Republican congressman, Don Bacon, is running against an “actual socialist” and he’ll be helping Bacon’s campaign.

“I’m running against the Democrats’ crazy turn toward socialism. But, as a matter of formal endorsements—I mean, I’m working to support the Republican ticket, period. But I’m not endorsing candidates in individual races.”

Wait, Sasse is supporting but not endorsing candidates?

Does supporting the Republican ticket mean supporting Trump in 2020? “All of the turn toward socialism is disastrous,” Sasse replies.

So does Sasse support Trump-Pence in 2020?

“I’m supporting the Republican ticket.”

Up and down the ticket, including the presidential race?

“I’m supporting the Republican ticket,” he replies. “See ya, dude.”

Sasse’s comments leave me confused….

In 2016, Sasse cast his vote in the presidential race for Mike Pence, not Donald Trump. Did that count as “supporting the Republican ticket”?

During a follow-up phone interview on September 30, I ask Sasse whether he has decided he will vote for Donald Trump (presuming Trump is renominated in 2020) or he might vote for Pence again, as he did in 2016. But Sasse still won’t directly answer the question. “I think that leaving it at supporting the Republican ticket is the right place for me to be,” he says.

“I plan to do some work for the Republican ticket down the road. Focused on my race right now and really not talking about anybody else.”

Efforts to get Sasse to talk about why he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 and whether his assessment of the president has changed don’t prove very successful, either. Sasse says he is “really grateful for the fact that the president has completely kept his word” about judicial nominees, and that Elizabeth Warren’s socialism and majoritarian politics “would completely baffle the Founders.”

“I think I’ve said almost everything that I can say about Donald Trump,” Sasse says.

You can read the whole thing in the latest issue.

Most Popular

U.S.

First, Restore Order

Doing evil in the service of a just cause does not change either side of the moral equation: Evil remains evil, and the just cause remains just — neither consideration cancels out the other or transmutes it. With riots and violence convulsing American cities after the horrifying death of George Floyd at the ... Read More
U.S.

First, Restore Order

Doing evil in the service of a just cause does not change either side of the moral equation: Evil remains evil, and the just cause remains just — neither consideration cancels out the other or transmutes it. With riots and violence convulsing American cities after the horrifying death of George Floyd at the ... Read More
Elections

Trump in Trouble

President Trump was disappointed. Bad weather on Wednesday forced a delay in SpaceX's planned launch of the Dragon spacecraft, robbing the president of a prized photo opportunity. He plans to attend the next launch, scheduled for May 30 at 3:22 p.m. EDT, but the spoiled visit to Florida punctuated another week of ... Read More
Elections

Trump in Trouble

President Trump was disappointed. Bad weather on Wednesday forced a delay in SpaceX's planned launch of the Dragon spacecraft, robbing the president of a prized photo opportunity. He plans to attend the next launch, scheduled for May 30 at 3:22 p.m. EDT, but the spoiled visit to Florida punctuated another week of ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Is It Revolution?

I knew I was tempting fate a week ago when I said that the coming nomination of Joe Biden and the COVID-19 pandemic had put America’s politics on chill during this election year. Little did I know that days later we’d be making analogies to 1968. The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman moved ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Is It Revolution?

I knew I was tempting fate a week ago when I said that the coming nomination of Joe Biden and the COVID-19 pandemic had put America’s politics on chill during this election year. Little did I know that days later we’d be making analogies to 1968. The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman moved ... Read More
PC Culture

For Looters, Looting Is Fun

One important thing to realize about looting is that it's usually enjoyable for those engaged in it, who exult in the momentary suspension of any rules. Just a couple of examples from the last couple of days (language ... Read More
PC Culture

For Looters, Looting Is Fun

One important thing to realize about looting is that it's usually enjoyable for those engaged in it, who exult in the momentary suspension of any rules. Just a couple of examples from the last couple of days (language ... Read More

Tired of ‘Winning’ Yet?

I’ve never really thought of Mark Steyn as a Palestinian suicide bomber before. You’ll want some context. Steyn, a wonderful writer and former National Review colleague, was filling in for Rush Limbaugh a few weeks ago, and he made the case for using antitrust law to bully technology platforms such as ... Read More

Tired of ‘Winning’ Yet?

I’ve never really thought of Mark Steyn as a Palestinian suicide bomber before. You’ll want some context. Steyn, a wonderful writer and former National Review colleague, was filling in for Rush Limbaugh a few weeks ago, and he made the case for using antitrust law to bully technology platforms such as ... Read More