Former Sen. John C. Danforth, R-Mo., is actively working to recruit an independent candidate for the open Senate seat in his state because Missourians desperately need someone, in his words, "to keep us together."
"Our country's motto is 'E Pluribus Unum' — Out of many, one," Danforth told Newsmax from his winter home in California. "We're one people and the extremes — left and right — are pulling us apart."
Danforth spoke to us days after a Bendixen poll he commissioned along with the Serve America Movement (headed by former Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla.) showed an "independent Republican" could win a three-way race for the Senate.
According to Bendixen's survey of likely voters in Missouri, an independent Republican would draw 28%, with 31% each going to a "Republican who supports Donald Trump" and a "Democrat who supports [Senate Democrat Leader Chuck] Schumer."
Under Missouri election law, a candidate seeking to qualify as an independent for the fall election must submit 10,000 valid signatures from voters by Aug. 1.
Danforth, 85, who served as one of the Show Me State's Senator from 1976-94, specifically cited the ongoing GOP primary for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt as the driving force behind his own search for an independent Republican to compete in the fall.
"All the candidates [for the Republican nomination] use the same language — the language of fights," Danforth said. 'They'll fight for you, fight against the other side, just an incessant use of the term 'fight.'"
In Danforth's view, candidates are increasingly "playing on grievances" and, as a result, "we have an 'us versus them' [politics]" and "it's dangerous for America."
A just-completed Missouri Scout poll of the Republican primary for senator shows former Gov. Eric Greitens at 25%; State Attorney General Eric Schmitt, 22%; Rep. Vicky Hartzler, 18%; Rep. Billy Long, 8%; trial attorney Mark McCloskey, 5%; and State Senate President Dave Schatz, 2%.
Recalling his days as a Republican senator, Danforth told us he "had the pleasure of working under two Republican leaders — Howard Baker (1977-85) and Bob Dole (1985-96) — and they both saw the Senate as a place to work with the other side. So did I, and I worked with [Texas Democrat Sen.] Lloyd Bentsen on the Finance Committee and [Massachusetts Democrat Sen.] Ted Kennedy, of all people, on civil rights. Both [Republican Sens.] Al Simpson [Wyoming] and Orrin Hatch [Utah] worked very closely with Ted Kennedy."
Such teamwork is now out of the question, Danforth concluded, because of the rhetoric of candidates in primary elections.
Shortly before we spoke to Danforth, his call for an independent candidate appeared to be answered. Thomas Schneider, former mayor of Florissant, Missouri, announced he would be the independent candidate Danforth is seeking.
"I don't know him," Danforth said of Schneider, and made clear he and his allies in the new movement were still in pursuit of a candidate.
A graduate of Princeton and Yale Law School, Danforth was elected Missouri's attorney general at age 32 in 1968 and, two years later, nearly unseated veteran Democrat Sen. Stuart Symington. In 1976, he made it to the Senate and served for 18 years.
George W. Bush reportedly was poised to offer him the vice presidential slot on his ticket in 200, but Danforth took himself out of consideration amid reports another ticket was in the works. He later served briefly as Bush's United Nations ambassador.
Danforth is also an Episcopal priest and known for his faith and strong sense of ethics. His nickname among those who know him well: "St. Jack."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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