In fact, former President Donald Trump’s comments on Vladimir Putin in Ukraine are revealing the divisions within the Republican Party about the extent of U.S. involvement with foreign conflicts.
The varied and at times conflicting Republican reactions, both on the campaign trail and on Capitol Hill, underscore how the party remains deeply influenced by Trump, who praised Vladimir Putin as "savvy" after the Russian president recognized the independence of two Russian separatist-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine.
Trump said that Russia's invasion began Wednesday. He also stated to Fox News that it was all due to a rigged election. He praised Putin at a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser Wednesday night, calling him "pretty intelligent" for "taking over a nation for $2 worth of sanctions." ( Video of remarks circulated by American Bridge, a national Democratic super-PAC.
While many Republicans balked at Putin’s actions in Ukraine and demanded that sanctions be applied swiftly and severely, others who are aligned to Trump have adopted a more positive view of Putin and have been less critical about U.S. military actions in Europe. Trump's allies on prominent media platforms have boosted that sentiment, with many of them framing Washington’s concern about Russia as an establishment, even elite, concern.
Republicans are largely united in their attack on Biden for the conflict of Eastern Europe. They don't have to answer for a congressional vote. Key figures within the party also criticize the president's leadership.
The GOP's muddled foreign policy stance is still a problem. There are many blocs that compete for political capital and influence with core party voters.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, the debates on foreign policy and how long-held Republican beliefs about America's place in the world have changed dramatically under Trump will be displayed. This annual activist gathering opens on Thursday. Trump will speak along with other traditional GOP voices.
In a radio interview with the "The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show", Trump called Putin "smart". This was after the Russian president had given a speech in which he explained why Russia is moving into Ukraine. "I said, ‘This is genius. Putin declares large parts of Ukraine to be Ukrainian. Putin declares it independent. Oh, that's wonderful. Now Putin says it's independent. This is a large part of Ukraine. I replied, "How smart is this?" He's going in to be a peacekeeper."
These comments reminded Trump of the notorious 2018 summit in Helsinki with Putin, where he claimed that Putin was more trustworthy than U.S. intelligence services. Trump has repeatedly criticized NATO and its allied countries for failing to pay their fair share in joint defense during his presidency and his first presidential campaign.
Many Republicans who aspire to higher office in the future have been praising Trump's handling Russia. Some even seem to share similar views about Putin. said that Mike Pompeo, who was secretary of state in the Trump administration and CIA director, told Fox News last Sunday that Putin is a "very skilled statesman." He is a gifted man. For goodness sakes, he was a KGB agent. He is a master at using power. We should all respect his wisdom.
Pompeo tweeted earlier this week that Putin was the aggressor. Ukrainians are the aggressors. However, Pompeo has claimed that Trump’s approach to Russia was successful in TV interviews and on Twitter. "Vladimir Putin remains the same person as he was under our administration. He stated that the only thing that hasn't changed is American leadership.
Pompeo, speaking in Iowa just hours before the invasion began on Wednesday, criticized Putin and called him "evil" as well as an autocrat who "wanted to reproduce this notion of the greater Russia, or the Soviet Union for some time".
Former Ambassador to U.N. Nikki Haley is a potential 2024 presidential candidate. She has expressed an openness to engaging in the discussion about Russia. While she has focused her remarks on the Biden administration, she also gave a nod to Trump, tweeting : "Vladimir Putin appears on the brink of recreating Russia's Empire, if it is not the Soviet Union." It was not so long ago that the leader in the free world stopped that from happening. "Today, Biden is mocking Russian aggression."
On the campaign trail, these fissures can also be seen. Jane Timken, a GOP candidate, joined other Republicans calling for tougher sanctions in the Ohio primary for Senator Rob Portman's seat. Trump and Reagan were both invoked by her, who said "America First" means strength through peace. For four years, President Trump has proven that it is possible to have a secure Southern Border and stand up against our enemies.
J.D. J.D. He called Timken a Cheney Republican.
Timken, who last week released an advertisement tying her self to Trump, reacted to Vance by noting that Ohio is home for 80,000 Ukrainian-Americans.
An earlier CBS News poll found that Republicans prefer the U.S. to stay out of the conflict and they disapprove more generally of his handling of Russia.
The Republicans on Capitol Hill have adopted a more hawkish approach to Biden's tough sanctions. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton has criticised the administration for not imposing sanctions until after Russia invaded Ukraine. Cotton tweeted this week, "There is no time to lose."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also demanded more severe and faster sanctions and urged that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipe between Russia and Germany be stopped. (The Biden administration issued Sanctions against the company that built the pipeline Wednesday.
The invasion was well under way on Thursday when Kevin McCarthy, House Republican Leader and close ally to Trump, released a statement. It did not mention either the current or previous administration. "Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was reckless and evil. He said that the United States stood with Ukraine's people and prayed for their safety and determination. "Putin must be held responsible for his actions."
"I believe this is the right moment to show American strength. Vladimir Putin and President Xi, both of China, took the wrong message from our abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan. It appeared chaotic and weak," McConnell stated during a meeting with Kentucky business leaders. In response to American weakness and lack of resolve, they push the limits all around.