(CNN)Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said something on Monday — following his surprise retirement announcement — that is worth paying attention to as we continue to monitor the control that former President Donald Trump continues to exert over his party.
Here’s the key bit (shout-out to CNN’s Allison Gordon for transcribing):”I think the country in the last decade or so has sort of fallen off the edge, with too many politicians saying, ‘If you vote for me I’ll never compromise on anything,’ and the failure to do that — that’s a philosophy that particularly does not work in a democracy. We’ve seen too much of it in our politics today at all levels, and rather than spending a lot of time saying what I’d never do, I’d spend more time saying what I’d try to do and be willing to move as far in the direction of that goal as you possibly could rather than saying, ‘I’ll never do this.’ “Who Blunt is talking about in that quote doesn’t require too much reading between the lines to figure out.
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In fact, on the same day Blunt said that, former President Trump said this: Read More”No more money for RINOS. They do nothing but hurt the Republican Party and our great voting base — they will never lead us to Greatness!”(Side note: I have no idea why Trump capitalized “Greatness” either.)Blunt is arguing that the Trump-led push for total purity to principle — or, more accurately, utter fealty to whatever the former President decides he thinks that day — makes for a miserable political existence. (And left unsaid but heavily implied: a very long stay in the minority in Washington.)There’s no question that the fear of a Trump-backed challenger in his 2022 reelection race played into Blunt’s decision. Ditto Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who previously shocked the political world with his retirement announcement last month.Here’s what Portman said about that decision:”I don’t think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision.”Sound familiar?The Point: There’s a reason that 25%(!) of the Republican senators up for reelection in November 2022 have already announced they aren’t running again. It’s the long-term impact of Trump on the party — and it’s already complicating the GOP’s chances of winning back the majority next year.