Retiring GOP Rep: Republican 'Litmus Test' Used to Be Ideological, Now It's 'Loyalty to the Man'
A moderate Republican congressman who announced his upcoming retirement said President Trump is "a factor" but not "the factor" in his decision.
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) told ABC News that in the span of his seven terms in the House, politics has become more polarized as party primaries appear to showcase candidates playing to their "base."
He praised the administration and Congressional Republicans for working together to enact the new tax law that he said will provide much-needed relief for Americans.
But Dent, who said he did not vote for Trump, claimed the New Yorker's administration "at times has taken the 'fun' out of dysfunction."
"Sometimes, you can laugh at it. But, it's not so funny anymore," he said of the way the White House operates.
"Before Donald Trump became president, the litmus test for Republicans was really about ideological purity and conformity," Dent said, adding that it now appears to be "loyalty to the man."
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Dent joked that politics has become so aggressive at some points that, to opponents, "if I set myself on fire...they would complain that the temperature of the flame isn't hot enough."
He later said that he understands Trump has serious appeal in some areas of the country, but that he could see more "swing district" Republican candidates asking the president not to appear with them on the 2018 campaign trail.
Dent's own district is somewhat of a swing district, comprising the rural stretch of eastern Pennsylvania along the Blue Ridge Mountains in addition to the more urban Allentown, the state's third-largest city.
He said he hasn't faced serious threats from the left nor "credible" threats from the right in elections, and added that he felt that the time was right to step away from politics.
Dent said it was his hope that legislators could find ways to work together again and eschew nominating polarizing candidates like Judge Roy Moore (R-Ala.).
"'Polarization' has become 'paralysis,'" he said, adding that 2018 Republican candidates will be "running into a headwind" and may likely see net losses.
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