Senator Ben Sasse sat perched on a stool, decked out in a bright red Nebraska Cornhuskers’ tracksuit. Smile wide, brown hair swept back, the Nebraska conservative glanced back-and-forth between the camera and his gold iPhone as he read messages from his Twitter feed:
“ ‘@BenSasse, Senator you are an embarrassment to your constituents and a jackass.’ ”
“ ‘Ben Sasse is a joke, looking for a punchline! What a maroon!’”
“’ Senator Sasse, you’re a douchebag. When Trump because [sic] president, your days will be numbered.’ ”
“ ‘Ben Sasse: Can anyone believe this bozo is a U.S. Senator?’ ”
Here, Sasse paused to joke: “My brother says this every week.”
“ ‘Ben Sasse. Shut up loser Sasse! How much you get for votes this year so far dead beat! Nobody believes anything you say.’ ”
“ ‘Why does media allow biblical donkey hole @BenSasse to continue trolling #Trump?’ ”
And on the short, saucy video rolled, with Sasse cracking up now and then as he shared some of the heartfelt feedback he has received regarding his prominent role in the #NeverTrump movement.
Even as Donald Trump’s campaign rallies devolve into a cross between a pro-wrestling match and a Klan march, many Republican lawmakers remain too chicken to take a stand against the aspiring despot. (Asked Sunday about his earlier pledge to support Trump if he won the nomination, Marco Rubio could only waffle, “It’s getting harder by the day to justify.”) Oh, sure, plenty of members are rooting for Trump to fail, but few are willing to take him on publicly. In the Senate, only Sasse has gone so far as to vow that, if Trump is his party’s pick, he will not back him. Indeed, for months now, Sasse has been actively working against Trump’s candidacy, lamenting it as part of a larger constitutional crisis threatening American democracy. It is a mini-crusade that has turned him into a hero for many Trump-phobic conservatives—including a chunk of the conservative media—and a prime target for Trump fans.