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Romney calls first Trump-Biden debate 'an embarrassment'

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyBiden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party Impeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP MORE (Utah), the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2012, said the first debate between President TrumpDonald TrumpGiuliani used provisional ballot to vote in 2020 election, same method he disparaged in fighting to overturn results Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Fox News' DC managing editor Bill Sammon to retire MORE and Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWoman accused of trying to sell Pelosi laptop to Russians arrested Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Trump moves to lift coronavirus travel restrictions on Europe, Brazil MORE, which was full of interruptions, personal insults and crosstalk, was “an embarrassment.”

“I thought it was an embarrassment last night, the debate,” Romney told reporters as he walked into the weekly Senate Republican luncheon.

Other Senate Republicans described the debate as “raucous,” “raw,” “rough,” “feisty” and, in the words of Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseGOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Democratic super PAC targets Hawley, Cruz in new ad blitz MORE (R-Neb.), a “shitshow,” echoing the description CNN reporter Dana BashDana BashTapper battles GOP lawmakers over criticism of Afghan vet's Electoral College vote CNN expanding Jake Tapper's show to two hours, shortening Wolf Blitzer's show Fauci: Mutant coronavirus strain must be taken 'very seriously' MORE used on air after the debate.

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Even some of Trump’s staunchest supporters thought the debate got out of hand.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time 'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack Republican senators now regret not doing more to contain Trump MORE (R-Okla.) said Trump’s performance was “a little too forceful” and advised that he “restrain himself a little” at the next debate.

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisDemocrats see Georgia as model for success across South McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Seven Senate races to watch in 2022 MORE (R-N.C.), who is in a tough reelection race, hesitated a moment when asked about his reaction to the messy debate, where any policy discussion took a backseat to personal jabs that at times became so entangled as the candidates spoke over each other that it was difficult to follow who was saying what.

“Uhh, it wasn’t a Lincoln-Douglas debate,” Tillis said, referring to the famous series of debates between Abraham Lincoln and Sen. Stephen Douglas during the 1858 midterm election, which for centuries set the standard for great political debate.

Sen. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanSenate poised to override Trump's defense bill veto Republican senators introduce bill to protect government workers from being targeted at home Business groups scramble to forge ties amid race for House Agriculture chair MORE (R-Ark.) said he thought the event “was pretty raw” while Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies MORE (R-N.D.) said it was “raucous.”

Asked if he was proud of Trump’s performance, Cramer, a strong Trump ally, responded, “Proud isn’t a word I use very much.” 

Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunTop Republican congressional aide resigns, rips GOP lawmakers who objected to Biden win Congress affirms Biden win after rioters terrorize Capitol Congress rejects challenge to Arizona's presidential vote MORE (R-Ind.), asked about Trump’s response when asked to condemn white supremacist groups such as the Proud Boys, said he would have delivered a more forceful denunciation. 
 
"I'm for all clearly denouncing that, any extremism on both sides,” Braun said. “That’s what I would do.”
 
Trump called on the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” and then quickly added: “Somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”