Republicans in Congress have been grappling for several days with the aftermath of the Republican National Committee’s vote to punish Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois for their criticism of Donald Trump and their participation on the panel investigating the March 6 Capitol siege. consumed in January.
As the intra-party struggles exposed by the RNC’s Feb. 4 no-confidence resolution are being played out in public, in part because of language that labeled the Capitol attack “legitimate political discourse,” party members want the organization to keep them quiet and Family matters keeps behind closed doors.
At least three Republicans told insiders on Capitol Hill that the backlash distracted them from talking about what they think voters care more about.
“Our focus should really be on the failed immigration policies, inflation, the overall economy and the higher gas prices that people face every day when they wake up,” Cynthia Lummis, the first-term Republican senator from Wyoming, said Thursday.
Getting sucked into the latest news cycle, she said, does no one any good. “We’ll report back when the wave subsides,” Lummis added.
Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama marveled at what he saw as a lack of messaging discipline from the party leadership. “We shouldn’t talk about it. You know, keep it indoors,” he said Thursday.
He offered some free advice to the RNC: “Do whatever you have to do. But we have to work for the American people.”
These concerns follow similar sentiments expressed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, who criticized the RNC for targeting his own.
And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the RNC should have clarified the language in its no-confidence motion better, which he said could have mitigated the firestorm that followed. The California Republican told reporters Feb. 9 that the controversy was a missed opportunity for his party to draw voters’ attention to what the GOP sees as a failed Biden policy.
“I think the very best thing we should do as a party is to focus on what American voters want. And what they really want is to lower their gas prices,” McCarthy said.
When asked about the controversy, Rep. Byron Donalds, a Florida Republican, said both parties have internal disagreements.
“That doesn’t mean we’re not focused on the task at hand, which is making sure we take back the house, which is what we’re going to do,” Donalds told Insider on Wednesday.
The freshman lawmaker said he’s sticking to discussing issues important to his constituents while making the rounds in Florida’s 19th Circuit.
“The first thing I say to people at home is get out there and go vote. You know, control what you can control,” he said.
Asked if that confuses his constituents as Trump continues to make unsubstantiated claims about rigged elections, Donalds said not at all. “He just wants to make sure the processes are safe,” Donalds, who endorsed Trump last December, said of the former president’s fixation on losing the 2020 election.