Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse says that the 2016 election reminds him of the 1860 election, "when there ended up being four-ish choices."
"The American people deserve better than two fundamentally dishonest New York liberals," Sasse said about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. "This is a country that put a man on the moon. And the American people deserve a better choice than this."
"So my first hope is that the voters in the primaries over the next three weeks are going to make a better choice, after that who knows what happens next."
CHUCK TODD: I believe you are the only Republican [senator] right now who was said you wil not vote for Donald Trump under any circumstances...
SEN. BEN SASSE (R-NE): Let's start with the fact that it's February 29th. I think 4% of the delegates have been selected and we're nine months away from an election, and the American people deserve so much better than two fundamentally dishonest New York liberals, and I think we'll have more choices, and I hope those choices come from within the Republican party.
CHUCK TODD: Do you think it's important -- if you believe that Donald Trump becomes the nominee, that you can't be a member of the Republican Party. Would you go as far as saying, I'm going to leave the Republican party and join a new Conservative party?
BEN SASSE: This is the party of Abraham Lincoln. This is not the party of David Duke, Donald Trump.
So I think we can do much better than the nonsense that had to be the opening segment of your show today.
But fundamentally, this party needs to return to its principles of believing in equality under the law and believing in the greatness of the potential of the American people. We believe in limited government. We don't believe in a bigger Washington.
And so, the kind of nonsense that's dominating the opening segment to your show is not what the Republican Party should be about.
CHUCK TODD: Trust me, nothing something we enjoyed putting together, to be honest with you, senator. Let me ask you this. If you have -- what is a political party? And I ask it this way. Is it a, is it a party who gets its principles and its ideals from its leaders, or is it ground up? What if this is the people speaking and the people are basically handing the nomination to Donald Trump? You may not like it, but is it then fundamentally that the Republican party is changing because the people that are members of it have changed?
BEN SASSE: So, great question. And let's start with this. Donald Trump has one definite skill, and he knows organizations that are ripe for the hostile takeover.
And the Republican Party has been way too vacuous and not nearly clear enough about first principles for quite some time, so he's trying to wage a hostile takeover of this party.
He's attacking all of the core tenets of the Republican party's platform.
This guy believes in abortion on demand, this guy says that he hates the concept of guns, this guy's been for single-payer health care, he's for a $6 trillion tax increase. That's not the Republican party. But right now, people are worried about future of the country, and Donald Trump is screaming the loudest.
The problem is, at the end of the day, most people really want a choice that is about a constitutional recovery. They want to rebuild what's broken in America, not tear it down. And when you listen to Donald Trump, all you really hear is more Donald Trump, more tear it down, and a lot of praise of foreign dictators. I don't think the American people, and I don't think most Republicans really want a strongman.
CHUCK TODD: What's more important to you, at this point. If it means electing Hillary Clinton, you would rather see anything to be done to stop Donald Trump from taking over the Republican Party?
BEN SASSE: No, it's a false choice. The American people deserve better than two fundamentally dishonest New York liberals. This is a country that put a man on the moon. And the American people deserve a better choice than this.
But you asked what a party is. A political party is a tool. It's not a religion, it's not a family, it's not the nation, it's not even as important as husker football. The Republican Party is a tool. And if it's useful, people should embrace it. And if it becomes totally vacuous, they should find a candidate that believes in the American ideals and they should want somebody who will lead us forward by celebrating a Washington that is about servant leadership.
CHUCK TODD: You can talk about a candidate, but somebody's got to do it. You know, if Mitt Romney tomorrow says, I'll go ahead, I'll do what it takes, starting on March 2nd, you know, it's hard to get on the ballots in Texas and North Carolina, you know, this takes work. You say it's nine months away, but you realize, to do this, you've got to start Wednesday.
BEN SASSE: Well, I think, first of all, you did a great service to people by talking about the history of the Whigs and the Republicans. This is, in some ways, an 1860 moment. Abraham Lincoln is the father of this party. And we need a recovery of the constitution for america, and we need a recovery of core first principles inside the Republican Party.
So my first hope is that the voters in the primaries over the next three weeks are going to make a better choice, after that who knows what happens next, but after that, like in 1860, when there ended up being four-ish choices. I think the American people are going to get a lot better choices in November...
People need to understand... I think a lot of the people who want a protest vote to scream Washington is broken, they need to realize, that if this becomes the Donald Trump/David Duke party, there are a lot of us who are out.