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Bannon: Time to 'retire' for Missouri's Blunt, GOP senator 'carrying water' for Biden

Longtime lawmaker has committed himself to the Republican establishment, as his constituents remain largely Trumpers.

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Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri)
Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri)
(Pete Marovich / Getty Images)
Updated: February 26, 2021 - 9:09am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Is Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt's time as a lawmaker up? According to Steve Bannon, it should be.

On Bannon's "War Room" Tuesday, the host made it clear that he thinks it's high time that Blunt, who has been in D.C. for nearly 25 years, step aside.

"His sell-by date is gone, he's gotta retire," said Bannon.

Blunt joins a pack of establishment GOP senators who have become targets of the MAGA right in the wake of the 2020 presidential election. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, for instance, received several Trump Twitter lashings in late December when he refused to challenge the Electoral College vote.

"Republicans in the Senate so quickly forget," wrote then-President Trump. "Right now they would be down 8 seats without my backing them in the last Election. RINO John Thune, 'Mitch's boy', should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn't like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!"

Last week, the former president laced into the aforementioned "Mitch" himself, as in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has blamed Trump for the loss of two GOP Senate seats in Georgia last month and assigned him "moral responsibility" for the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.

"Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again," said Trump, amid McConnell's increasingly open antagonism toward his former ally in the conservative makeover of the federal courts. 

"Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First," Trump warned.

Blunt, who is currently the fourth ranking member of the Senate Republican Caucus, rode to victory (narrowly) on Trump's coattails in 2016. Now closely allied with establishment heavyweights like McConnell, Blunt enjoyed a friendly relationship with the former president during the first several years of his presidency. More recently, the Missourian has opted to distance himself from Trump and his wing of the party.

Following the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, Blunt made several media appearances in which he criticized Trump. On CBS' "Face the Nation", Blunt advised Trump to "be very careful over the next 10 days," saying that the then-president should ensure that "his behavior is what you'd expect from the leader of the greatest country in the world."

Blunt also spoke out against Trump's decision not to attend President Joe Biden's inauguration, at which Blunt delivered a speech. "I think it was a personal mistake on his part ... It was the first time in 152 years that a president that could be here for the inauguration wasn't here," Blunt told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Inauguration Day.

Blunt may have narrowly escaped the tweeted fury of the former president primarily because Trump was permanently kicked off Twitter in the days prior to Blunt's admonitions. But now, surrogate voices on the right are catching up to Blunt. 

"Blunt didn't just drop the ball, he's carrying water for the Biden administration," Bannon declared.

Despite his recent rhetorical barbs aimed at the former president, Blunt aligned with Trump twice during the recent, second, impeachment of Trump — first voting nay on the constitutionality of the Senate trying a former president, then voting to acquit. Still, his credibility with the Trumpian populist wing of the GOP pales beside that of his Missouri colleague Sen. Josh Hawley, a highly visible — and voluble — conservative firebrand.

Sitting just feet away from Bannon as he called for the end of Blunt's political career, was former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who is rumored to be considering challenging Blunt for his seat in the 2022 Republican primary, though a Greitens spokesperson declined to confirm the speculation.

Blunt is "working for lobbyists instead of fighting for the people of Missouri," Greitens said across the table from Bannon.

In recent appearances on Bannon's show, Greitens has cautioned viewers not to let the "R behind someone's name" lead to a false assumption that a politician is working hard on behalf of the constituents.

"Governor Greitens knows better than anyone that it's not about Democrats and Republicans, but rather about political insiders versus the outsiders," said a Greitens spokesperson.

A propos of Blunt, he added: "While it is disappointing to watch so-called Republicans throw President Trump under the bus, it's what we've come to expect from the Republican establishment."

Blunt himself has not yet formally announced his campaign to run for a third Senate term, though he is "still planning to run," he says. Missouri is a solidly red state that Blunt barely won in 2016. Without all of Trump's fervently loyal voters in his corner, he may have a harder time with the coming election.

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