Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, castigated President Trump in a telephone town hall with constituents on Wednesday, accusing the president of bungling the response to the coronavirus pandemic, cozying up to dictators and white supremacists, and offending voters so broadly that he might cause a “Republican blood bath” in the Senate.
In a dire, nine-minute indictment of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy and what Mr. Sasse called his “deficient” values, the senator said the president had mistreated women and alienated important allies around the globe, been a profligate spender, ignored human rights and treated the pandemic like a “P.R. crisis.” He predicted that a loss by Mr. Trump on Election Day, less than three weeks away, “looks likely,” and said that Republicans would face steep repercussions for having backed him so staunchly over four tumultuous years.
“The debate is not going to be, ‘Ben Sasse, why were you so mean to Donald Trump?’” Mr. Sasse said, according to audio obtained by The Washington Examiner and authenticated by The New York Times. “It’s going to be, ‘What the heck were any of us thinking, that selling a TV-obsessed, narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea?’”
“We are staring down the barrel of a blue tsunami,” he added.
Mr. Sasse also hinted at more drastic consequences: a “Venezuela style” Supreme Court with dozens of justices installed by ascendant Democrats; an empowered China ruling the Pacific because of Mr. Trump’s “weak” policies; and American allies doubting whether they can “trust in U.S. strength and U.S. will.”
Mr. Sasse’s critique played out over just a few short minutes after someone on the call asked the senator about his previous criticisms of Mr. Trump. The senator, who styles himself as a principled conservative, has never pretended to be a fan of the president. But even compared with his earlier remarks, his comments during the call were remarkably scathing.
“The way he kisses dictators’ butts,” Mr. Sasse said, listing his reservations about Mr. Trump. “I mean, the way he ignores that the Uighurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now. He hasn’t lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong-Kongers.”
He continued: “The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor.”
Mr. Trump, he added, “mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He’s flirted with white supremacists.”
Mr. Sasse, who is up for re-election on Nov. 3, has never made a secret of his distaste for Mr. Trump. During the 2016 campaign, he compared Mr. Trump to David Duke and said he was not voting for him. In office, he called Mr. Trump’s signature trade war with China “nuts.”
But he had toned down his criticism in recent years, earning a crucial endorsement from the president he once savaged.
Mr. Sasse told constituents during the call that he was concerned the president’s failures and “stupid political obsessions” would empower Democrats.
“If young people become permanent Democrats because they’ve just been repulsed by the obsessive nature of our politics, or if women who were willing to still vote with the Republican Party in 2016 decide that they need to turn away from this party permanently in the future,” Mr. Sasse.
Mr. Sasse did not exactly try to keep his criticism quiet. James Wegmann, a spokesman who confirmed his comments, said 17,000 Nebraskans had been invited to participate in the call, though it does not appear to have been open to the general public.
Mr. Wegmann said that Mr. Sasse would remain focused on Senate races. “I don’t know how many more times we can shout this,” Mr. Wegmann said. “Even though the Beltway is obsessing exclusively about the presidential race, control of the Senate is 10 times more important.”