The Senate is on a razor’s edge heading into next year’s midterms, and all Republicans have to do is net one seat to retake the majority. It’s a time when any ordinary party not controlled by Donald Trump would be lining up a slate of candidates with wide-ranging appeal.
But for Trump, that means littering the GOP field with alleged wife and child abusers. Senate GOP campaign chair Rick Scott demonstrated once again Monday morning that Senate Republicans don’t have the moral fortitude to declare a history of abuse disqualifying.
Sen. Scott of Florida was asked on CNN whether Trump-endorsed Sean Parnell was “still the right candidate” for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat after his estranged wife gave damning testimony last week about Parnell’s alleged patterns of abuse. Scott dodged.
“We’ll see who comes out of the primary,” Scott said. “Facts will come out. We’ll find out exactly what people think. I think what ultimately happens is people are going to look at somebody’s background and say is that the type of person they want and also are they talking about the issues I care about.”
CNN’s Brianna Keilar responded, “But is this the type of person you want? ... You have someone whose wife is saying that he strangled them and that he left welts on their child. I think that’s a fair question to ask you if this is the right guy for this job.”
But given a second chance, Scott doubled down on the GOP’s particular brand of spinelessness.
“Brianna, I’m not supporting or opposing people in primary. I am the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee,” Scott offered, using neutrality as a get-out-of-jail-free card for having to demonstrate any basic sense of decency.
Scott was, in fact, the second Senate Republican who couldn’t bring himself to say the GOP doesn’t support wife batterers or child abusers.
Asked about the abuse allegations last week, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who is vacating the seat, entirely ducked the question. “I really don’t have anything for you right now,” Toomey told HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic.
The GOP establishment has already embraced the candidacy of another alleged domestic abuser, Herschel Walker. None other than GOP Leader Mitch McConnell himself linked arms with the Georgia Senate candidate a couple of weeks ago, bowing to Trump’s wishes on someone who hasn’t lived in Georgia in decades and is dragging a boatload of baggage with him into the race.
Now, Senate Republicans are opening the door to potentially putting another abusive candidate on their roster. According to Scott, if Parnell wins the GOP primary, his alleged history of wife and child abuse is just fine by Senate Republicans. Maybe McConnell will issue a statement asserting that Parnell “is the only one who can unite the party,” just like he did for Walker.
Perhaps having an abusive history will become the GOP’s new litmus test for its candidates.