Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler was apparently on another planet or something during the 2016 presidential race.
Asked Wednesday about her previous assertion that there was nothing – not. one. thing – on which she and President Donald Trump disagreed, Loeffler reiterated that fact. Pressed by reporters on whether her unanimous support for Trump included sexist and misogynistic comments he made about women that were caught on an “Access Hollywood” tape and released just before the 2016 election, Loeffler said this: “Look, what I agree with is the approach President Trump has taken since day one to put America First.”
Which, er, OK? But, it got worse. Here’s what came next between a reporter and Loeffler:
Reporter: “And you’re still not disagreeing with that particular thing that President Trump said, you’re still not disagreeing with that?”
Loeffler: “Sorry, what are you referring to?”
Reporter: You’re still not disagreeing with President Trump’s statements about personally sexually assaulting women.”
Loeffler: “I’m not familiar with that.”
At which point, CNN’s Manu Raju interjects to note that the other reporter is “referring to the Access Hollywood tape.” To which Loeffler responds:
“Yeah no. This President is fighting for America. That’s what I’m fighting for to make sure that every American has their chance to live the American dream and against the socialist policies that Joe Biden is espousing every day.”
It’s hard to even rate this set of answers from Loeffler on the ridiculous scale. We might need to create a whole new scale. Because, while she was not yet in the Senate in 2016 – she was appointed by the governor to the seat of former Sen. Johnny Isakson in early 2020 – she was, in fact, alive during the last presidential campaign.
And anyone – and I mean anyone – living in America at that time would have been aware of Trump’s comments to Billy Bush, as captured on the “Access Hollywood” tape. It created a massive furor in the final days of the race as a number of Republican leaders called for Trump to leave the contest or distanced themselves from him entirely. Trump dismissed the episode as “locker room talk.”
It is completely and totally impossible that Loeffler was a) unaware of the story when it happened and b) had not heard of it in the intervening four years. Literally inconceivable.
So what is she up to? The answer, as almost always, is politics.
Because Isakson left before his term ended in 2022, Loeffler’s appointment only holds through the November election. On November 3, there will be an all-party primary. If no candidate gets 50% of the vote, which is very, very likely, the top two vote-getters – regardless of party – advance to a January runoff.
Polling suggests that the Rev. Raphael Warnock, the preferred nominee of national Democrats, is virtually assured of a spot in that runoff. Loeffler is battling Rep. Doug Collins (R) for the other spot. (Collins was Trump’s choice for the appointment.)
And Loeffler has made the calculation that the way she beats out Collins is to be more Trumpian than Trump. She had a perfect 100% pro-Trump voting score this year, according to calculations made by 538. She has embraced Marjorie Taylor Greene, the likely congresswoman from the state’s 14th district, who has made a name for herself nationally by embracing the QAnon movement and making a number of xenophobic and Islamophobic comments.
This latest gambit – that she is unfamiliar with Trump’s vulgar comments about women – is simply in keeping with Loeffler’s strategy to ensure that Collins can’t be more pro-Trump than she is.
And it might work! But that doesn’t make it right.