GOP Sen. John Thune of South Dakota says it’s time for his party to leave former President Donald Trump in the past and move on because the party is in need of candidates that are “electable.”

In his first interview since he voted to acquit Trump during an unprecedented second impeachment, Thune told the Associated Press that some in his party are embracing “cancel culture” of their own creation by censuring senators who voted their conscience and cast a ballot to convict the former president:

“There was a strong case made. People could come to different conclusions. If we’re going to criticize the media and the left for cancel culture, we can’t be doing that ourselves.”

Thune also blamed Trump for refusing to concede after it became clear he had lost the 2020 election to President Joe Biden:

“The senator only rarely criticized Trump while he was in office. But he called the former president’s actions after the election ‘inexcusable’ and accused him of undermining the peaceful transfer of power.”

The future of the GOP, Thune told the AP, is in supporting candidates who can appeal to a large share of the voters:

“He praised Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, who was censured by the Wyoming GOP for voting to impeach Trump, for doing an ‘exceptional job on most issues’ and said he was ready to jump into primary battles like the one she is sure to face.

“’At the grassroots level, there’s a lot of people who want to see Trump-like candidates,’ he said. ‘But I think we’re going to be looking for candidates that are electable.'”

Thune has faced his own share of criticism, with some suggesting he’s too closely tied to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), but he dismissed other Republicans who have attacked him as “food fights within the family.”

“You’ve got to face the music, and at some point, it’s got to be over and you’ve got to move on. I think it’s just important to tell people the truth. The most important responsibility of any leader is to define reality.”

What remains to be seen is whether or not the GOP can actually extricate itself from the death grip Donald Trump has on them. If not, they could be destined to go the way of the Whigs.

Featured Image Via NBC News