Portman on Trump's dominance of GOP: Republican Party's policies are 'even more popular'

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanBipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — US mulls Afghan evacuees' future Hillicon Valley — Presented by Ericsson — DOJ unveils new election hacking charges MORE (R-Ohio) on Sunday argued that despite former President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE’s continued popularity among the GOP, the Republican Party's "policies are what's even more popular."

On ABC’s “This Week,” host George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosKlobuchar confident spending bill will be finished before Christmas Fauci defends omicron travel restrictions Fauci says omicron variant will 'inevitably' hit US MORE asked the retiring senator about Trump’s apparent return to the political arena with a Sunday speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), noting that fellow GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (S.C.) has said that the Republicans cannot win without the former president.

“Well, he's very popular among Republicans, and the polling shows that. I do think that the policies are what's even more popular,” Portman said.

“That's why Republicans actually did pretty well in 2020, other than the presidential level, as you know. Not a single House Republican lost. In fact, 15 seats were picked up in the House," he added. "We did better in the Senate than was expected. We picked up some statehouses.”

Stephanopoulos pressed Portman, asking if policies could be the focus of the GOP if Trump continues to be the dominating force in the party.

"Well, it sometimes makes it more difficult. But, look, I think he has an opportunity today to talk about his accomplishments. I mean, instead of talking about personalities or, you know, who might have not agreed with him on the impeachment process, talk about what you did," Portman said, pointing to the economic growth that occurred during Trump's term before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump is scheduled to speak at CPAC on Sunday afternoon, marking his first public appearance since leaving the White House.

Portman announced in January that he would not be seeking a third term as senator in 2022.

"We live in an increasingly polarized country where members of both parties are being pushed further to the right and further to the left, and that means too few people who are actively looking to find common ground," Portman said in a statement at the time.