Josh Hawley Draws Fire From GOP Ex-Missouri Senator as Approval Rating Slides

Former Missouri Senator Jack Danforth has strongly criticized Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) following his decision to support objections to some Electoral College results on January 6.

Danforth, a Republican, represented Missouri in the Senate from 1976 until 1995 and is considered a political mentor of Hawley's and strongly encouraged his political ambitions.

The former senator told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell on Monday that he now regretted endorsing Hawley and said he bears responsibility for the deadly riot at the Capitol.

"By his action, he was creating a time and a place that would be the focal point for what turned out to be the darkest day in American history, at least one of the darkest days in American history," Danforth said.

Danforth dismissed Hawley's claims that he was now being attacked for speaking his mind, pointing out that Hawley didn't speak on the Senate floor about objecting to Pennsylvania's Electoral College votes.

"He created a situation and without him the situation wouldn't have happened," the former senator said.

Danforth also criticized Hawley's recent op-ed in The New York Post where the senator complained about the "muzzling of America." His article took aim at so-called "cancel culture."

"His basic line is, it is us against them," Danforth said. "It's a diversion and it's baloney. I never imagined the ultra-populist, us against them conspiracy—this kind of mess—would have occurred. I would have never agreed to that."

Well this is an interesting venue: Former Sen. Jack Danforth (R-Mo.) is on @Lawrence tonight talking about @HawleyMO and Jan. 6.

"His action -- he was creating a time and a place that would be the focal point for … one of the darkest days in American history."

— Eli Yokley (@eyokley) January 26, 2021

His criticism comes as a Morning Consult poll shows Hawley's approval rating in Missouri has declined from 42 percent to 36 percent following the events of January 6.

While a majority of Republicans in the state still support Hawley, his approval among GOP voters had fallen 9 points up to January 18. The senator enjoyed 63 percent approval among Republicans in the typically red state, down from 72 percent.

Hawley defeated then-incumbent Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, by 51.4 percent of the vote to 45.6 percent in 2018 and he's not up for re-election until 2024.

Danforth had previously called supporting Hawley and helping to elect him to the Senate was "the worst mistake I ever made." He linked Hawley's objections to the election results to the Capitol riot.

"Yesterday was the physical culmination of the long attempt (by Hawley and others) to foment a lack of public confidence in our democratic system. It is very dangerous to America to continue pushing this idea that government doesn't work and that voting was fraudulent," Danforth said on January 7.

Hawley Speaks on Ratifying the Election Results
In this screenshot taken from a webcast, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) speaks during a Senate debate session to ratify the 2020 presidential election at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Hawley has faced criticism from one of his predecessors as senator. via Getty Images