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caption: In this Jan. 6, 2021 file photo rioting supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Historians say Trump’s legacy and his electoral undoing will be largely shaped by rhetoric aimed at stirring his largely white base that tugged at the long-frayed strands of race relations in America.
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In this Jan. 6, 2021 file photo rioting supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Historians say Trump’s legacy and his electoral undoing will be largely shaped by rhetoric aimed at stirring his largely white base that tugged at the long-frayed strands of race relations in America.
Credit: (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Time for GOP lawmakers to 'step up' no matter the personal cost, says this Republican

"Leadership" is the answer to conversations that many Republicans are having in the wake of a violent, pro-Trump insurrection at the United States capitol, according to Washington state Republican Rob McKenna.

Speaking with KUOW, McKenna said Republicans have to now take a risk, "step up," and take the party back from extremists.

“Look, every one of those members of Congress, House or Senate, they need to be willing to lose their jobs if that is what it takes to get the right results," McKenna told KUOW.

"Members of Congress, and I’m talking Republican members … they clearly were afraid of their own base. They rationalize raising these objections [to the election results]. Democrats have done it too … both parties need to resist the temptation to politicize and distort a process that was not set up to deal with what they are trying to do.”

As a former Washington state attorney general and GOP candidate for governor, McKenna is no stranger to Republican politics in Washington state. He's largely focused on how Republicans have a lesson to learn in the wake of the politically-motivated violence and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol: "Good leadership matters" and it's time to "step up and take the party back."

“This is why ethical, conscientious leadership matters," McKenna said. "Because when you have a demagogue in office as the president, bad things can happen. And that's exactly what we saw happen last Wednesday. Good leadership matters."

He added that "our systems of government are sound, but they can never be better than the people who we elect and who chooses our leaders."

McKenna is not the only local Conservative to speak so critically about the president. GOP strategist Randy Pepple also previously described Trump as a "demagogue" to KUOW. In July 2020, Pepple said that Trump was "toxic."

"Donald Trump isn’t a Republican. He’s a demagogue," Pepple said. "He’s no more a Republican than Joe Biden is a Republican."

In the wake of violence at the Capitol, Washington state Republicans condemned the insurrection. The Washington State GOP tweeted that the capitol violence was "unfathomable" and "unacceptable" on January 6.

Two days later, account's tweets struck a much different tone, decrying poor treatment of Trump. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers also chided rioters on Twitter before engaging in the same what-aboutism a couple days later.

Rep. Dan Newhouse condemned the violence on January 6. As did Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler who called on people to "reject the anger and the fear that is driving us at each other."

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Herrera Beutler was among a group of Republicans considering voting in favor of impeaching President Trump.

'Hijacked by extreme forces'

McKenna said he worries that his party has fallen into the hands of dangerous people.

“I'm concerned that the Republican Party has, to an extent, been hijacked by extreme forces," McKenna said. "And Republicans who are not extremists need to step up and take the party back."

McKenna held up former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush as examples of presidents who have conducted themselves in honorable ways, contrasting that with the behavior of President Trump.

“How can anybody look at Donald Trump and his life and conclude that he fits that description? He hasn’t for decades," he said. "And yet, people cut political deals and decided 'he’s the guy we’re gonna support.' That’s a mistake we cannot make again.”

McKenna added that Conservatives should not sacrifice the integrity of the party for the prospect of winning offices or other political victories.

“There is no accomplishment that could possibly justify Donald Trump’s behavior," he said.

He is also calling on Republican leaders to "consistently criticize threats of violence, the use of violence, to stand against it," and on "Democrats to support their Republican colleagues when they have the courage to do that, and not give in to the temptation to attack them."

McKenna pointed to images of congressmembers from the day of the U.S. Capitol attack, which seemed to portray solidarity across the aisle.

"Locked arm-in-arm, Democrat and Republican, and that was a really good visual. We need more of that going forward."