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Trump’s War on GOP Critics Not ‘Helpful’ in Effort to Win House, NRCC Chair Says

President Donald Trump speaks at the National Republican Congressional Committee Annual Spring Dinner in Washington, April 2, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee said Wednesday that winning back the House of Representatives next year will be harder if former-President Donald Trump follows through on his threat to support primary challengers for Republicans who voted to impeach him.

In a live-streamed interview with Politico, Tom Emmer, a Republican from Minnesota, said he suspects Trump will listen when he and others in the party tell him that going after incumbent Republicans is “not going to be helpful” in the effort to win back a House majority in 2022.

During the interview, Emmer praised the former president for bringing new voters to the party, and he said much of the Trump agenda remains “hugely popular” with Americans. But if Trump is intent on going after his enemies in the House, it will make it harder for Republicans overall.

“He can do whatever he wants,” Emmer said of Trump. “But I would tell him it’s probably better for us that we keep these people, and we make sure that we have a majority that can be sustained going forward.”

In his first public appearance since leaving office, Trump attacked fellow Republicans who supported his impeachment for inciting the Capitol riot in January, listing all seven senators who voted to convict him.

“The Democrats don’t have grandstanders like Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, [and] Pat Toomey,” Trump said Sunday in his address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida.

The former president also named the ten House lawmakers who voted to impeach, singling out “the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney, how about that.”

“Hopefully they’ll get rid of her with the next election,” Trump said. “Get rid of them all.”

Emmer predicted Republicans will win back a House majority by focusing on “kitchen table” issues and contrasting their message with Democrats pushing radical leftist policies. He promised to be “very honest” about the direction that Democrats are leading the nation.

Republicans disrupted conventional wisdom when they picked up 15 House seats last year, falling five seats short of winning back control of the chamber. Emmer credited the Republican candidates last year for being “some of the best candidates” his party has ever fielded in the House, and a group that showcased the party’s diversity.

“I’m proud to say the 15 seats we picked up … every one of them was won by a female candidate, a candidate from a minority community, and or a military veteran,” he said.

Winning back the House in 2022 will follow the same blueprint, and will require another slate of great candidates, enough resources, and a persuasive message focused on kitchen table issues and voters’ economic wellbeing. Many parts of the Trump administration’s agenda remain popular with voters, he said, citing an all-of-the-above energy policy, securing the country’s borders, and an America-first worldview.

“I think Republicans need to celebrate those polices going forward,” he said.

Democrats are openly attempting to roll Trump’s policies back, he said, noting President Joe Biden killing the Keystone XL oil pipeline with the stroke of a pen, and a moratorium on future fracking on federal lands.

“Those two actions on their own cost us about a million jobs and a billion, with a B, dollars in tax revenue that go to states like New Mexico to support their school systems,” Emmer said.

Emmer pushed back on a question about whether it was fair and honorable for the Republican election strategy to link all Democrats to radical proposals like defunding the police.

“We will always maintain our integrity, and we are going to be honest. But we’re going to be very honest,” Emmer said. “And when your conference is headed down the direction that this radical, socialist left agenda, which we’re seeing again happen, and you’re not standing up to fight it, you’re not standing to speak up and wrestle to take back my grandfather’s Democratic Party that he loved so much, you’re going to own it. You’re going to own the entire agenda.”

He suggested Democrats opposed to a radical left agenda “should consider joining us.” And he rejected the idea that support for radical policies is limited to a small number of Democrats.

“This is not one, two or three or four members,” he said. “For goodness sakes, last night they actually, more than half of their conference, or almost half of their conference voted to give incarcerated individuals the right to vote – murderers, rapists, pedophiles.”

Emmer also defended his vote to certify Biden’s victory in January. In his view, there are only two instances when Congress should insert itself into an election: If no candidate receives 270 Electoral College votes, or if a state sends alternate slates of electors.

He dodged a question about whether he believed Trump and other Republicans should stop claiming that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, because it may suppress Republican turnout in 2022. “I think all of us together are going to make sure that we restore the integrity to our elections so that people trust that their votes are being counted, and the outcome is the fair and transparent result,” Emmer said.

It’s the job of state legislatures to make changes to state election laws, Emmer said, not governors, attorneys general, secretaries of state or the federal government. He called H.R. 1, the Democrats’ so-called “For the People Act of 2021,” a “federal takeover of our elections.”

“While Americans are trying to put food on the table, we’ve got a socialist Democrat majority in the House that is literally trying to move something that they call election reform this is going to take public funds to support their campaigns,” he said. “That is not the kind of reform we need going forward.”

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Ryan Mills is a media reporter at National Review. He previously worked for 14 years as a breaking news reporter, investigative reporter, and editor at newspapers in Florida. Originally from Minnesota, Ryan lives in the Fort Myers area with his wife and two sons.

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