In a pre-taped interview with Mary Bruce for ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) said that “loyalty” to President Trump was the new Republican litmus test, and that “for some … loyalty is not enough.”
BRUCE: You are retiring. You never endorsed President Trump as a candidate; and you didn’t vote for him. Was the president a factor in your decision to leave?
DENT: Yeah. A factor, not the factor.
BRUCE: How so?
DENT: He was a factor. I’ve been [in] elected office now for 28 years. … I just felt it was the right time. I’m young enough and healthy to do something else. So there are personal reasons involved — but there are other issues, too. Certainly, the president, you know, has been a factor. I have often said that this administration at times has taken the “fun” out of dysfunction. I expect a certain amount of dysfunction in government, and sometimes you can laugh at it, but it’s not so funny anymore. But to be fair, some of my own frustrations predated President Trump. …
BRUCE: You are the chair of the Tuesday Group, the group of moderate Republicans. You’ve mourned in the past how ideologues have seized sort of the upper hand in the Party. Does the president play a role in that?
DENT: Yeah, but it’s interesting. Before Donald Trump became president, the litmus test for Republicans was — it was really about the ideological purity and conformity. Now the litmus test has changed. The issue is loyalty to the man, to the president. And for some, you know, loyalty is not enough, you have to be angry and aggrieved. I’ve often said to some folks around here that if I set myself on fire for them, they would complain that the flame, that the temperature of the flame isn’t hot enough.
I mean, that’s what we’re dealing with now. It’s not about ideology anymore, it’s about loyalty to the president. And the president doesn’t always inspire, you now, Party loyalty. I mean, let’s face it, Democrats [were] taken over by Bernie Sanders. He didn’t win the nomination; he’s not even a Democrat. The Republican Party [has] been taken over by Donald Trump, and he’s nominally Republican. That’s where we are.
Here’s the video (pertinent portion begins at the 1:31 mark):