Senate Republicans dance around Trump criticism as 2020 nears

Senate Republicans are honing their playbook for distancing themselves from President Donald Trump‘s comments while avoiding criticizing him by name or taking concrete action.

This strategy was apparent Thursday as GOP lawmakers made clear they disagreed with Trump’s ABC News interview in which he said he would accept a foreign government’s offer of dirt on a political opponent without necessarily calling the FBI. Yet most of them stopped short of directly rebuking Trump or saying they would take up legislation that would clearly make such conduct illegal.

This has become a familiar act from Republicans who often disagree with their president yet are wary of being the subject of his ire — especially on Twitter. With 22 Republican senators up for re-election in 2020 on the same ballot as Trump, they are trying to avoid becoming casualties of his unpopularity among the general public without alienating his staunchest supporters.