Sen. Portman Defends GOP Leadership Under Trump After Announcing He Won't Seek Reelection

Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, defended the past four years of Republican leadership in the White House and Senate on Tuesday after announcing his surprise decision not to seek reelection in 2022 a day earlier.

The Republican lawmaker cited "partisan gridlock" with his Monday announcement that he would not seek a third Senate term, which reportedly came as a surprise to many GOP colleagues. Some analysts speculated that Portman's decision came due to concerns over the direction the Republican Party is headed. But the GOP senator appeared to push back against those suggestions in a Tuesday interview with Fox News.

"The differences [within the Republican Party] are not irreconcilable at all because they're based on policy and they're based on ideals and those remain the same," Portman told the hosts of America's Newsroom. "In fact, I think much of what we did in the past four years—taking out the style sometimes and the approach—but the substance of it was exactly where most Americans are," he said.

WATCH: @senrobportman comments on the Senate impeachment trial and explains why he won't seek re-election in 2022 @BillHemmer @DanaPerino

— America's Newsroom (@AmericaNewsroom) January 26, 2021

"I believe, you know, we're a country that believes the economy grows through smart tax reform, tax cuts, regulatory relief for small businesses," Portman added. "I believe the country wants to have a stronger military that can project force around the world and keep the peace."

Newsweek reached out to Portman's press secretary for further comment but did not immediately receive a response.

The Ohio lawmaker was the third Republican senator to announce that they would not seek another term in the 2022 election. Ahead of his 2016 reelection, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina said that he would not seek another term in 2022. Last October, Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said he would not run again.

"This was not an easy decision because representing the people of Ohio has been the greatest honor of my career," Portman said of his decision in a Monday statement.

"I don't think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision," the Republican senator added.

Jeff Sadosky, a former senior aide to Portman, told The Hill that the GOP lawmaker's decision was "a sign that the [Republican] party is focused on those with the biggest mouths, not those with the best plans."

Rob Portman
Ohio GOP Senator Rob Portman is photographed during a hearing in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on January 19 in Washington, D.C. Some analysts speculated that Portman's decision to not run for reelection came due to concerns over the direction the Republican Party is headed. JOSHUA ROBERTS/POOL/AFP/Getty

Portman's decision came as the Republican Party confronts major internal tensions, particularly following the pro-Trump insurrection against the U.S. Capitol on January 6 that resulted in 10 GOP members of Congress voting alongside Democrats to impeach the former president a second time.

The article of impeachment against Trump for inciting the insurrection was delivered to the Senate on Monday, and the Senate trial is planned to begin the week of February 8. While a number of leading Republicans have strongly condemned Trump's actions and blamed the former president for the riot—which left five people dead—others have ardently defended him.