Retiring Rep. Ryan Costello bristled at the president’s chiding words for Republicans who did not campaign on his support and lost their midterm races, likening it to “dancing on somebody’s grave.”
“It’s highly inappropriate, and it’s deeply offensive,” Costello said in an interview with CNN. “Every single one of those members took tough votes in order to advance a center-right agenda because they believed in it, but they took a lot of heat for it. The president should be thanking them for putting up the tough votes and advancing an agenda which I believe we are better off economically because of a lot of the policies that have been implemented.”
At a press conference Wednesday, Trump read off a list of names of defeated Republicans whose losses he attributed to not embracing his endorsement on the campaign trail.
Costello passed on his own re-election race. The two-term lawmaker told party leaders he would retire in March.
Tough political realities in his state played a role. Costello faced a difficult road to re-election after his district in Philadelphia suburbs was redrawn and became more Democratic. Hillary Clinton carried the seat under its previous configuration by 1 point in 2016. But under the new map, she would have done so by 10 points.
Democrat Chrissy Houlahan picked up Costello’s seat Tuesday night with 59 percent of the vote.
Costello bemoaned the backlash Republicans have received from members of the public because of actions by the White House, and placed the blame for Republicans’ losses Tuesday night squarely on the president’s shoulders.
To deal w harassment & filth spewed at GOP MOC’s in tough seats every day for 2 yrs, bc of POTUS; to bite ur lip more times you’d care to; to disagree & separate from POTUS on principle & civility in ur campaign; to lose bc of POTUS & have him piss on u. Angers me to my core.— Ryan Costello (@RyanCostello) November 7, 2018
In interviews since his retirement, Costello has said that he dreaded fielding questions about the words and actions of his party’s standard-bearer and feared being seen as “complicit,” citing the popular uproar to the Muslim travel ban in particular.
Costello broke from Republican leadership when he voted against the Republican health care bill, but for the most part voted in line with the Trump agenda over his tenure.
Watch: Trump Declares Success in the Midterms, Spars With CNN Reporter