‘Not going to waste a single minute on tweets’: GOP Sen. Sasse pushes back after Trump attacks

John Fritze
 
| USA TODAY

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Trump town hall: President asked about his position on white supremacy

After refusing to denounce white supremacy at the first presidential debate, President Trump took a different path at his Town Hall on NBC.

WASHINGTON – Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who has ramped up his criticism of President Donald Trump’s election strategy in recent days, brushed aside a fiery tweet Saturday in which the president described him as “stupid and obnoxious.”

“Ben said the same thing to Nebraskans that he has repeatedly said to the president directly,” James Wegmann, a Sasse spokesman said of the senator’s increasingly public criticism of the president. “Ben is focused on defending the Republican Senate majority, and he’s not going to waste a single minute on tweets.”

The public back and forth between Sasse, an occasional critic of the president, and Trump comes as Republicans are working overtime to try to keep control of the Senate and as the White House is counting on GOP votes to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and approve an economic stimulus, should a proposal materialize.

Republicans are also concerned Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s lead in national and battleground state polling could be a drag on Senate races Republicans will need to win to retain control of the chamber, including in Georgia and Arizona. 

Sasse drew the president’s ire by telling constituents during a recent call that Trump “kisses dictators’ butts” and has “flirted with white supremacists.” Sasse’s office confirmed the authenticity of a recording, first reported by the Washington Examiner.

More: Sasse blasts Donald Trump: He ‘kisses dictators’ butts,’

Sasse’s earlier criticism of Trump’s refusal to denounce the conspiracy theory group QAnon came up during Thursday’s NBC town hall – leading to one of the most newsworthy exchanges in that event. Trump was asked by NBC moderator Savannah Guthrie to disavow the group, in one of the more viral moments of the evening.

A core tenet of QAnon is the false belief that Trump was elected to root out a secret child-sex trafficking ring run by Democratic politicians and celebrities. 

“I don’t get that, you’re the president. You’re not like, someone’s crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever,” Guthrie said.

“No, no, no,” Trump said, explaining one of his tweets that gave oxygen to the group. “That was a retweet, and I do a lot of retweets.”

Trump weighed back into a fight with Sasse on Saturday morning in a series of tweets, describing him as the “least effective” of the Republican caucus and a person who “truly doesn’t have what it takes to be great.”

“Little Ben is a liability to the Republican Party, and an embarrassment to the Great State of Nebraska,” Trump wrote. “Other than that, he’s just a wonderful guy!”

Contributing: Nicholas Wu

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