Election gambit blows up on Hawley and Cruz

Hawley, who was photographed pumping protesters with his fists before they raided the Capitol, declined to be interviewed for this story.

In questioning the election results, the senators agreed with Trump and the unsubstantiated claims of his most staunch supporters of widespread election fraud. Some in Trumpworld are still cheering them on and they could ultimately win grassroots support if they run for president. But after rioters stormed the Capitol to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election, Hawley and Cruz face immediate consequences.

Hawley’s political patron, Former Senator John Danforth (R-Mo.), Turned him on vocation his support is “the biggest mistake I have ever made”. His top donor, David Humphreys, said he should be censored. Hawley’s publishing house dropped it and disrupted a key element of many presidential campaigns. Cruz, meanwhile, faces a reduction in the backlash he received for stalling in 2013 over a failed attempt to beat Obamacare.

“Everyone can see through and see: Understand that they are running for president,” said former Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), A frequent critic of Trump. “[They] I think they get a pass and they can be popular with the grassroots. And no harm is done. Damage has been done. ”

Hawley and Cruz led separate efforts Wednesday to object to the confirmation of the election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania, despite Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Hawley, being the first to challenge Biden’s victory announced. Cruz was pursuing his own plan to raise objections, calling for the creation of a 10-day electoral commission, originally supported by 10 of his GOP colleagues, but with no chance of being formed.

Some Senate Republicans dropped their objections after the Capitol was searched, but Cruz and Hawley maintained their stance. Both Hawley and Cruz condemned the violence on Wednesday.

Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) And Chris Coons (D-Del.) Call on both men to resign.

Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) said in an interview that he stood up for Hawley, Cruz and Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) And Steve Daines (R-Mont.) To change their minds when they are protesting Biden’s votes when senators are entrenched in a safe area after the attack. Lankford and Daines withdrew “when they saw the danger of what happened,” said Manchin. He told Hawley, “Please think about what you’re doing. Please think about what you’re doing.”

Hours later, after the rioters were finally driven from the Capitol, Hawley was still turning on Pennsylvania. And Cruz voted with Hawley against confirming the Keystone State election. Five other GOP senators joined them.

“There is no way they can get involved. Thinking they could go away and say,” I just exercised my right as a senator? “Especially after we got back here and after they saw what happened,” Manchin said . “I don’t know how you can live with yourself now when you know that people have lost their lives.”

Even without Cruz and Hawley, it is possible that another Republican Senator would have worked with the House to challenge the election. But both struggled to become faces of the effort, and everyone in Washington believes they’ve spent the last month positioning themselves for the next presidential race. They sent fundraising appeals Wednesday afternoon when the riot outside the Capitol got out of control.

Cruz said he told his staff on Wednesday to stop fundraising immediately “because we had a terrorist attack on the Capitol.” But when they raised funds for the issue in the days before, other GOP candidates’ cash flow completely dried up and was replaced by hundreds of angry emails from donors asking why Republicans weren’t with Hawley and Cruz Aide to a Republican Senator.

Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) Said if Cruz or Hawley win the 2024 GOP nomination, “I’ll be spending a lot of time making sure the people of Pennsylvania don’t forget.”

The Senate Republicans tried to distance themselves from their efforts. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) called Hawley a “shrewd lawyer” who needs to understand that the courts threw Trump’s election challenges. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) Accused Cruz and Hawley of “directly” undermining the people’s right to choose their leaders.

Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said non-pollers would “forever be seen as accomplices in an unprecedented attack on our democracy.” Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Also a prospective presidential candidate, told Fox News that “these senators literally stormed the Capitol as insurgents and sent out fundraising emails.”

“Sen. Hawley did something that was really stupid, ”Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) Told NPR on Friday. “It was a terrible, terrible idea, and you’re not lying to the American people.”

Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, said that while he “strongly disagreed” with Cruz and Hawley’s decision to question the election results, “he” makes a difference between balancing an issue and inciting violence. ” . Meanwhile, Daines said that Cruz “was very clear that it wasn’t about overthrowing the election”.

A GOP senator, speaking on condition of anonymity, predicted the caucus would face a reckoning on Hawley and Cruz.

“Your whole motto, if you will, is a lie. It’s based on a lie and they both know it, ”said the Senator. “To the extent that the persistence of that lie has helped excite the crowd, it is a responsibility that Ted and Josh share with Donald Trump.”

While the raid on the U.S. Capitol was broadly condemned by members of both parties, the GOP base remains devoted to Trump.

Hawley could also become a martyr for conservative free speech after Simon and Schuster canceled his book. And the Anti-Establishment Senate Conservatives Fund is backing Hawley because other allies are leaving him.

“The junior senator from Missouri’s decision to object to the election results showed tremendous courage,” read a fundraising email sent on Friday.

Some former Trump aides hailed the senators’ efforts.

“Sen. Hawley campaigned for the integrity of the election by challenging the Keystone State electoral college vote and deserving praise, “said Greg Manz, a former Trump employee who worked on his 2016 and 2020 campaigns. “President Trump’s supporters will not forget his valiant efforts to defend the Constitution.”

However, others said Trump supporters viewed Hawley and Cruz as spurious.

“They saw through his blind, ambitious act and it just wasn’t seen as real,” said Bryan Lanza, a former Trump 2016 campaign worker, of Trump voters’ view of Hawley. “You don’t think he’s a real MAGA supporter. … He just seems insincere.”

Much of the recent outrage has centered on Hawley, currently the youngest senator, trying to translate Trump’s populism into concrete policy. He worked with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) To advance $ 2,000 stimulus checks, called for federal employment subsidies during the pandemic, and fueled his own party’s judicial candidates.

Cruz said Friday that he saw his efforts as a middle ground for Hawley’s move and the immediate confirmation of Biden’s victory because the Senators were given “two decisions, both of which were really lousy decisions.”

For Cruz, it’s a return to the old days when he got a cold shoulder from the GOP establishment wing. He helped lead the indictment into the 2013 shutdown for defusing Obamacare and accused McConnell of lying in 2015, which cost him Senatorial support in his run against Trump.

Still, in the end, Cruz was Trump’s closest competitor. And he eventually became one of Trump’s closest allies, despite Trump attacking his wife on the trail and refusing to endorse Trump for weeks.

Cruz distanced himself from Trump Friday, but he does not join calls for his immediate resignation.

“The president’s language and rhetoric was inconsiderate,” said Cruz. “And it wasn’t helpful. I did not say that. “

Daniel Lippman contributed to this report.

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