Rob Portman: Trump ‘Definitely the Leader of the Party’

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Sen. Rob Portman at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in 2018. (Erin Schaff/Reuters)

Senator Rob Portman (R., Ohio) said Sunday that former President Trump is “definitely the leader” of the Republican party, given his “high popularity among the Republican base.”

Portman’s comments came during an appearance on ABC’s This Week, one day after Trump held his first post-presidential rally in Ohio.

“That’s what you saw last night, I think. You saw a big turnout,” Portman said.

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During the rally, which Portman did not attend because he had a family commitment, Trump blasted the Biden administration and lauded the efforts of his own administration.

Trump endorsed Republican congressional candidate Max Miller in his effort to oust Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R., Ohio), who was one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for incitement of an insurrection over the January 6 Capitol riot.

The former president condemned Gonzalez as a “sellout” and a “disgrace.”

“He’s a grandstanding RINO [Republican in name only] – not respected in D.C. – who voted for the unhinged, unconstitutional, illegal impeachment,” Trump said, calling the impeachment effort a “witch hunt.”

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Trump also urged his supporters to vote Republicans into office during the 2022 midterm elections. 

Portman told ABC that the GOP and the former president should turn their focus toward policies, including Trump-era plans that “worked” and those that are “not working now.”

He said Republicans also need to set their sights on regaining House and Senate majorities in 2022.

Portman announced earlier this year that he will not seek reelection in 2022. At the time, he said his decision not to run for a third term was partially the result of political partisanship.

“We live in an increasingly polarized country where members of both parties are being pushed further to the right and further to the left, and that means too few people who are actively looking to find common ground,” Portman said.

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“This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but a problem that has gotten worse over the past few decades,” he added.

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