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Live Mic: In a post-Trump world, what does the GOP look like?

(President Trump, left, speaking in Arizona, September 14, 2020. Former VP Joe Biden speaking in Florida September 15, 2020. Credit, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — What will the Republican Party look like in a post-Trump world, and how might it be shaped by Utah GOP leaders after President Donald Trump leaves the White House?

Former 2016 presidential candidate Evan McMullin joined KSL NewsRadio’s Live Mic host, Lee Lonsberry on Friday, before former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden had secured the 270 votes needed to win the Electoral College.

Running as an independent candidate four years ago, McMullin earned 21.3% of the vote in Utah, earning 243,690 votes and preventing then-candidate Donald Trump from securing 50% of the vote.

 

McMullin said if Mr. Trump is defeated, the Republican Party will have the opportunity to debate the party’s direction.

“I am one Republican who has, of course, disagreed with the direction of the party under President Trump’s leadership,” he said.

A post-Trump world and the Utah GOP

The country and the GOP need the unifying approach to leadership that Utah embodies, McMullin said.

“Are there high-profile Republicans in office today who exemplify, in your view, the proper way to be a Republican?” Lee asked.

“I think Senator Romney has been a principled servant of the public,” McMullin said.

Gov.-elect Spencer Cox is also another “phenomenal example,” he added.

McMullin said the GOP needs more of the same (i.e. unifying, principled, compassionate conservatives). But he said some Republicans have strayed in the past four years, such as Utah Sen. Mike Lee comparing Mr. Trump to Captain Moroni — a revered figure in the Book of Mormon — during a campaign rally in Arizona on Oct. 28.

Sen. Lee and Moroni

“To my Mormon friends, my Latter-day Saint friends, think of him as Captain Moroni,” Sen. Lee said pointing to Trump. “He seeks not power, but to pull it down. He seeks not the praise of the world or the fake news, but he seeks the well-being and the peace of the American people,” Lee told the crowd, according to an article in the Deseret News.

“That was a comparison that didn’t make a lot of sense,” McMullin said. 

The next day, the senator apologized and elaborated to clarify what he meant with his “perhaps awkward” remarks:

“Do you view his comparison between Captain Moroni and Donald Trump to be a shortcoming of communication or is it a partisan shortcoming?” Lee asked.  “Is his comparison there a reflection of him [Sen. Lee] as a Republican or as a communicator?”

“It’s deeper than just style,” McMullen said. “I think there’s a tendency out there for people who support the president to conclude that those who don’t just differ with his style. That’s just not true.”

McMullin said Mr. Trump over the past four years has been “divisive and cruel and amoral that you can’t even compare the two [Moroni and President Trump].”

Divider-in-chief

McMullin added that there are also policy issues apart from hostile style.

“We’re not going to find solutions to modern challenges with divisive leaders. It just won’t work,” he said.

McMullin said it’s also Mr. Trump’s rejection of science during a pandemic, catering to violent, extremist movements, cozying up to dictators, driving up the national debt [just under $27 trillion] — before the pandemic — and attacks on the rule of law.

“These are all substantive issues that just aren’t good for the country and aren’t good for the Republican Party. I think in a post-Trump world we can leave these behind and move forward,” McMullin said.

Finally, McMullin said it’s not all bad.

He thinks Mr. Trump brought working-class Americans into the Republican Party.

“I think that’s a good thing,” he said. 

 Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.