Portman says Trump makes GOP policies ‘even more popular’ ahead of former prez’s big CPAC speech Sunday

Retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio indicated Sunday that because former President Donald Trump remains wildly popular among the GOP base so, too, are the party’s policies.

In an interview with “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos, Portman, who has announced he won’t see a third term in 2022, was asked about Trump’s return to the spotlight Sunday afternoon with a speech to close out this year’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla.

“Well, he’s very popular among Republicans and the polling shows that. I do think that the policies are what’s even more popular,” Portman said, responding as well to Stephanopoulos’ mention that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), has said the party can’t win without Trump in future election cycles.

“And that’s why Republicans actually did pretty well in 2020, other than the presidential level is, you know, not a single House Republican lost, in fact, 15 seats were picked up in that House. … We did better in the Senate than was expected, we picked up some statehouses,” Portman said.

Stephanopoulos went on to press Portman over whether GOP policies could remain the focus as long as Trump was at the helm of the party.

“Well, it sometimes makes it more difficult. But look, I think he has an opportunity today to talk about his accomplishments,” Portman said of Trump’s upcoming CPAC speech. “I mean, instead of talking about personalities or, you know who might have not agreed with him on the impeachment process. Talk about what you did.”

Earlier this month, Graham told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that there is no way Republicans gain ground politically without the former president being prominent within the party.

“He was a damn good president. He rebuilt the military, he brought order to chaos at the border, he cut our taxes, he destroyed the caliphate, put Iran in a box, and put three great Supreme Court justices on the Supreme Court and hundreds of conservative judges throughout the federal judiciary,” Graham said, noting that both Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should unite to focus not on each other but on President Joe Biden’s left-wing policies.

“They’re now at each other’s throats. I’m more worried about 2022 than I’ve ever been. I don’t want to eat our own,” he said. “I would say to Sen. McConnell, I know Trump can be a handful, but he is the most dominant figure in the Republican Party. We don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of taking back the majority without Donald Trump. If you don’t get that, you’re just not looking. He was a hell of a president on all the things that conservatives really believe in.’

As for Trump, he is expected to focus his attention on Biden, as well as assume titular leadership over the GOP, CBS News reported Sunday.

“We are in uncharted territory because no other former one-term presidents in modern times have ever had as large a post-election following,” a senior adviser to the former president told the network on condition of anonymity.

Trump isn’t expected to announce a second bid for the presidency in 2024, however, CBS News reported.

That said, the senior adviser did indicate that Trump is likely to mention a few Republicans with whom he has disagreements.

“There’s a very strong chance almost certainty that a few of those Beltway elites will be name-checked,” the adviser said.

Last week, presidential daughter-in-law Lara Trump also said the former president would focus on Biden’s agenda.

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Jon Dougherty

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