GOP pollster Frank Luntz on Capitol Riots and the Republican Celebration
Some Republicans in Congress need to explain why they failed to more vigorously condemn President Donald Trump’s false election claims prior to the U.S. Capitol uprising, GOP pollster and strategist Frank Luntz told CNBC on Thursday.
“I think the Republicans now have a lot to do to mend this injury,” Luntz told Squawk Box. “They are very busy explaining why they did not oppose the president before and why these protests were allowed to get so out of hand.”
The riots on Capitol Hill broke out Wednesday afternoon after Trump supporters came to Washington to protest the completion of the November presidential election results by Congress. Trump encouraged the gathering and tweeted about it for weeks, including a December 19 message when he said the protest would “be wild”.
Speaking at the rally on Wednesday morning, Trump continued his unsubstantiated tale that he would have defeated President-elect Joe Biden had it not been for widespread electoral fraud. He again vowed never to allow Biden to vote. “We’ll stop the theft,” he said as he took the stage.
Although Trump supporters’ violation of the U.S. Capitol stalled the final vote on the electoral college for hours, the House and Senate eventually resumed their sessions to confirm Biden’s victory early Thursday morning. Some Republicans still objected to Biden’s victories in Arizona and Pennsylvania – but some GOP senators, like Kelly Loeffler, who lost her seat in Georgia, reversed their positions after the riots.
“This is a bad time for this country. It is a bad time for the house of the people. It is a bad time for the Republican Party,” Luntz said. “This morning I know that there are many people who have a lot of regrets on their hands, and hopefully the person who regrets it most is the President of the United States.”
Shortly after Congress completed Biden’s victory, Trump said in a statement that there would be an “orderly transfer of power.” However, he again falsely stated that “the facts” support his claim that he only lost to Biden for widespread electoral fraud.
Luntz warned of problems for the Republican Party even before Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, resulting in his evacuation and the suspension of a constitutional session. On Tuesday he said “the next 48 hours are going to be some of the worst for the GOP,” referring to the Georgia Senate runoff election and plans by some Republicans to object to the electoral college vote.
NBC News forecasts both Georgia Democrats are set to defeat their GOP opponents, which would give the Democratic Party a majority in the Senate. “This is a lesson for the Republican Party of what is likely to come if they continue to do so,” Luntz said Wednesday morning in response to the Georgia results.
Luntz doubled his outlook on Thursday: “We have never seen a situation where Americans – Americans – attack their critical institution, and I think that will resonate with swing voters.”