Ohio Senator Rob Portman said late last week that terrorism “helps the Republican Party.” The vulnerable incumbent made the galling comment just days after his party’s presidential frontrunner threw the GOP “toward chaos” with a dangerous proposal to ban Muslims from the U.S.
From the Columbus Dispatch:
The comments came during an interview with Bloomberg TV on its “With All Due Respect” program in which two reporters asked Portman about the state of the Republican Party.
“I think the party is strong for a couple of reasons,” Portman replied, saying that national security and the threat of terrorism is one that has preoccupied the public…
“I think that probably based on the polling I’ve seen, what I hear, it probably helps the Republican Party,” he said.
And from TPM:
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on Thursday suggested that the national debate about the Islamic State and terrorism has likely strengthened the Republican party recently.
And another from MSNBC:
The obvious issue is that it’s unseemly for a politician to talk up the partisan benefits of Americans fearing terrorism. There’s something inherently crass about Portman arguing that the ISIS focus “helps the Republican Party.”
But that’s not the only concern. It also matters that the Republican record on matters of national security has been pretty horrible in recent memory, making it an odd area for boasts from the Ohio senator.
Finally, let’s not automatically assume that Portman’s correct about the political landscape. Just two weeks ago, a national poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post asked respondents, “Who would you trust more to handle the threat of terrorism?” Hillary Clinton led each of the top Republican contenders – Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush – on the question, partisan assumptions notwithstanding.
“It is absolutely appalling that Rob Portman would suggest that a barbaric terrorist group creates a political advantage for him and other vulnerable Republican Senators, and his tone-deaf punditry followed a particularly grim week for his party thanks to frontrunner Donald Trump,” said Lauren Passalacqua, DSCC National Press Secretary. “Ohioans deserve a senator who will focus on eliminating terror threats, not making cynical assessments of how they may boost his poll numbers.”