WASHINGTON — Gov. Larry Hogan, R-Md., criticized those within the GOP who insist they need to double down on keeping former President Donald Trump as its leader despite his loss in 2020, saying that it’s part of a “battle for the soul of the Republican Party.”
As House Republicans appear ready to remove Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., from its leadership ranks because of her criticism of Trump and his false claims that the election was stolen from him, Hogan told “Meet the Press” Sunday that the party is becoming a “circular firing squad.”
“It bothers me you have to swear fealty to the dear leader or you get kicked out of the party. It just doesn’t make any sense,” Hogan said.
“It’s sort of a circular firing squad where we’re just attacking members of our own party instead of focusing on solving problems.”
Hogan, seen as a potential GOP presidential hopeful in political circles, has been one of the louder Trump critics within the party. His tone and views on Trump contrast with how most GOP officials describe the president; last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., argued that the Republican Party “can’t grow without” Trump, and Republican leaders have decamped to Trump’s residence in Florida in recent months in the hopes of portraying a unified front.
“We’ve got to get back to winning elections again and we have to be able to have a Republican Party that appeals to a broader group of people,” Hogan said.
“We had the worst four years we’ve had ever in the Republican Party losing the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who voted to convict Trump on impeachment articles earlier this year after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, told “Meet the Press” that he tries to push back on those who believe Trump’s false claims about election fraud by “being honest.”
And he argued that the Republican Party will have to find a way to unite both sides of its intra-family fight, exemplified by the divide between Cheney and Graham, around policy solutions if it wants to be successful moving forward.
“Before Covid hit, we had the best economy we’ve had in my lifetime. Now, I would argue there are some who still see him as the messenger of those policies,” Cassidy said of Trump.
“For us to win in 2022 and 2024, we need everybody. We need those who feel as Liz and those who feel as Lindsey.”