On CNN Thursday, following President Joe Biden's speech at Independence Hall warning of the threats Donald Trump and his loyalists pose to democracy, longtime Mitch McConnell adviser Scott Jennings slammed Trump for his suggestion earlier in the day that he would issue full pardons to the insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol for him on January 6.
Trump's comments, said Jennings, are a massive headache for Republicans who just want to move on and craft a policy agenda.
"Scott, there was something that happened today and it does play a little bit into what President Biden was talking about," said anchor John Berman. "President Trump suggested today that he would look very, very strongly, very strongly — I think he used very three or four times — into pardoning January 6th insurrectionists if he is in a position to do so if he runs and if he wins re-election. He says he's very likely to pardon insurrectionists. Is that a message that, for instance, Mitch McConnell or other people in the Republican Party who want to take back the Senate — is that a message they want to hear?"
"No," said Jennings flatly. "I mean this is looking backwards. It's what Donald Trump wants his next campaign to be about. He wants it to be about relitigating 2020, righting the wrongs, in his mind, of how it was taken away from him. Just this week, he tweeted that he thought he should be reinstated or we should have a new election right now."
Jennings agreed with Berman's suggestion that Trump's promise to pardon insurrectionists gave Biden "ammunition" in his speech.
"Biden knows if they put Trump at the center, Trump will be all too happy to oblige it," said Jennings. "And every day we spend talking about what Trump is saying and how Biden is framing it, and if you're on the — from a Republican messaging perspective, that's a day you're not talking about inflation and border and schools and crime. That's a day Biden is going to win. So from a pure Republican operative perspective, you've got to not take — you've got to resist this. You've got to put the American people and your constituents at the center of your messaging and not let Donald Trump hijack your campaign every day. Biden knows this. That is why this is not an incorrect tactical impulse. They're not doing so hot on some of the economic stuff, so to put Trump at the center of it makes some strategic sense."
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