David Perdue says Senate has ‘leadership issue’ but is bashful about own future

U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill earlier this week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue hasn’t shied away from bashing his Senate colleagues and party leaders for big-ticket policy foibles in recent months, but the freshman Republican is staying tight-lipped about his own future in the upper chamber.

Perdue said the Senate’s fumble on Obamacare repeal legislation shows the GOP has a “leadership issue” and a “membership issue,” in a Thursday interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that will air on Sunday. But he dodged a question about whether he’d ever try to join the Republican leadership team in order to make changes from the inside.

“That’s flattering,” he said. “I’ve never heard – I mean I hear people talk about it – but right now we have a leader. We have leadership.”

Perdue’s name has come up as a potential successor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell among some disaffected corners of the conservative universe agitating for the Kentucky Republican to step down. Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots recently indicated she wouldn’t be opposed to Perdue as Senate leader.

And Perdue has shown his own frustrations with his party leader, directly leveling a shot at McConnell in September after the GOP failed to coalesce behind a last-ditch Obamacare repeal bill.

But Perdue’s rhetoric was much more pared down on Thursday.

He credited McConnell for twice listening to his calls to keep the Senate working longer hours to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominees and make progress on other issues. He was sharper toward Susan Collins, John McCain and Lisa Murkowski, the three Republican senators who opposed recent Obamacare repeal plans, for not being team players on health care.

But when it came to his own political ambitions, Perdue said he saw aiding the implementation of Trump’s agenda as his “only priority” at the moment.

“This is a situation where we have a leadership right now, and (in) my role as the only Fortune 500 CEO in Congress I try to add value on the topics that I have experience in the real world like this tax debate,” he said. “I’ve lived with that, and so we’re able to bring some value to that conversation, I think, and that’s my role right now in the Senate.”

Perdue has long been viewed as politically ambitious, but his name usually popped up as a potential candidate for Georgia governor or national office, not for a higher-profile Senate role. But Trump’s ascendancy to the White House has shifted the discussion among some of his allies.

Perdue’s remarks came as outside figures such as former White House adviser and Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon escalated calls for McConnell to step down. Among Senate Republicans, however, McConnell’s standing is considered strong.

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David Purdue won't even have a Telephone town hall! How weak! Wearing some Dollar General Campaign shirts on the campaign trail to try to claim he was a common folk. Yet he barracaids himself behind the gates to Sea Island.

David Purdue needs to be a one term Senator. He wants tax cuts for the Rich. LIke him. Those of us in the middle class will see our taxes rise.

Let's vote for Stacey Evans for Govenor and then another good Moderarate Dem for the Senate to replace every Republican Congess man in 2018 and Purdue in 2020. Stop those R's who answer only to the Koch's and Mercers.

Kathy
Kathy

Again, hard to find a politician that is not catering to lobbyists and corporations for personal gain. Our political system needs an overhaul from these two parties that are out for power for themselves. Neither party bigwigs could identify the average citizen if they fell over one.

theflock
theflock

Everything Perdue has voted for in the Senate is for the benefit of large corporations and himself, just as he did in his professional career. He is of no benefit to the rest of us.

bendedknee
bendedknee

This guy will run nude down the middle of Pennsylvania Ave.  if Trump told him to do so.

OldAtlanta
OldAtlanta

Perdue's ambition is to be POS. Make no mistake about it.

Cats_Resist
Cats_Resist

David Perdue's only agenda is enriching himself, e.g., by voting to give himself a massive pay raise financed through deficit spending and tax hikes on middle class workers. 

LowSage
LowSage

david needs to step down----he's done nothing in office except make some deals to get richer.