On CNBC’s Squawk Box, Portman Says Election Results Give President Biden Opportunity to Bring People Together
In an interview this morning with CNBC’s Squawk Box, Senator Portman reacted to the 2022 midterm results, noted that it gave President Biden the opportunity to fulfill his inaugural pledge to work with both parties and govern from the middle, and discussed the importance of focusing on key issues like inflation, immigration, and crime. Portman also emphasized appealing to independent voters in order for the Republican Party to be successful in the 2024 elections.
A transcript of the interview can be found below and you can also watch the interview here.
PORTMAN ON 2022 MIDTERM RESULTS IN THE HOUSE
“I do think that, you know, the country is divided. The American people are divided, kind of right down the middle and that is reflected in these House numbers. It will be a Republican majority unless something changes dramatically. But it will be a fair thin majority and a difficult majority to hold together. In the Senate, you know, it’s still up in the air, depends on Nevada. It is possible that he keeps his lead, and if he keeps his lead and then we win Georgia, then it is a Republican majority. My point is it is right on the knife’s edge and people ought to pay attention. You know, when Joe Biden ran for president, he actually talked about bringing people together. In fact, he won a primary saying, ‘I’m going to be the adult in the room, work with Republicans as I always have and then in his inaugural address he used the word unifier or some synonym 19 times and he has never done it in my view. So, this is an opportunity now. If Republicans had won big, which a lot of people expected, frankly it would have been harder for him because he would have been under a lot of pressure from the left.”
PORTMAN ON 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES
“I don’t think Donald Trump is going to run. I know that puts me in a distinct minority, I know. Well, we will see. He has hyped it before and not come through. Look, I think that what he is going to do is look at the polls and the polls show that his approval rating is quite high among hardcore Republicans and certainly among Republicans in Ohio and other states. But when the second question is asked, ‘Do you think he ought to run for president?’ the numbers are much less compelling for him. And in fact, head to head as you know with Governor DeSantis he is losing in some of these Republican polls. Look, I think he is likely to look at the polling data and say he doesn’t want to lose. So, I don’t think he goes through with it at the end of the day. He is still a powerful force in the party though and again, his favorable rating is high. He can play a constructive role. In his administration, what he did on tax policy, regulatory policy, foreign policy, even building up the military. I mean a lot of good things he could talk about. That’s what the role is that he ought to be playing. If he does, it could really help the Republican party.
“He [DeSantis] just won with big numbers and part of it is the policies and part of it frankly is competence. You know, I think people are looking for people who know how to manage things competently and he showed that. I think that contributes… Well, again he focused on issues and he was shown to be a competent manager, particularly with regard to COVID, and I think that is what people are looking for.”
“2024, here we are already. Well, again I think if Republicans had done as well as expected, you know, he would have been getting a lot of pressure from the left because he would have had some challengers. You would have heard a lot of his potential presidential contenders talking today about how it’s time to move on. Because he did pretty well and because the country is so divided, I think he is probably likely to run and I don’t think he has to shift so far to the left because I don’t think he is as weak as he would have been had the predictions been true.
“I think it’s so darn early. Do you remember when Mayor Giuliani was by far the top pick among Republicans to be the presidential candidate? I mean things shift, I think Phil Graham was at one point too. So, it’s early, it’s early. I think I’m fine, I’m getting out of this crazy business for a while. I don’t think so, Joe. Well, I mean Ohio is a state that used to be the bellweather state. We have actually shifted a little more Republican if you look at the results.”
PORTMAN ON KEY ISSUES AND INDEPENDENT VOTERS
“I think you focus on crime, you focus on the border, you focus on immigration generally. You focus on the economy, obviously, and inflation. And those are the issues. When you look at what happened in this election, candidates who talked about those issues, including J.D., by the way, you met with J.D. Vance in Ohio, that’s what he’s talking about. All of his ads were about those issues, every one of them. I think they will do well, particularly when you combine it with competence.
“I totally agree and I think when you look at what happened with the independent vote, Republicans did not do well. That’s where we lost ground. There wasn’t turn out on our side, or turn out on their side. It was among these independents. In places like Ohio, we did pretty well. You know, Mike DeWine won by 20 plus points and J.D. Vance won by eight points. But in other states, we just didn’t appeal to independents and I think a lot of it is style and a lot of it is personality.”