WASHINGTON ― Republican senators don’t love an anti-Joe Biden meme that’s been gaining in popularity in conservative circles and even some members of Congress in recent days.
“I don’t think it’s very respectful and I wish it would stop,” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) told HuffPost when asked about the “Let’s go Brandon” phrase on Tuesday. “I don’t support that type of language.”
The phrase, shorthand for an explicit expression bashing the president, gained steam last month after an NBC sports reporter who was interviewing NASCAR driver Brandon Brown at a race mistook a crowd chant of “Fuck Joe Biden” for “Let’s go Brandon.”
The meme has caught fire on the right since then with media personalities sharing it widely online and former President Donald Trump even selling campaign merchandise. A Southwest Airlines pilot is also under investigation for using the phrase while signing off from a flight.
Members of Congress have gotten in on the action, too. Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) used the phrase after making a speech on the House floor last month. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) was spotted wearing a “Let’s go Brandon” mask. And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called the phrase “one of the funniest things” he’s ever encountered.
But other GOP senators aren’t joining in the fun.
“I’m just not a fan of that,” Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told HuffPost when asked about the meme.
Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.) said he’s “not inclined to participate” in the chant.
Sen. Mike Braun (Ind.), meanwhile, said he understands why people are frustrated with Biden and his administration even if he doesn’t personally support using explicit language. Most Republicans would rather focus their messaging against the Biden administration on the economy and foreign policy.
“Regardless of what you think of style or delivery, there’s a lot to be frustrated with,” Braun said of Biden’s policies. “I’m one that’s more for less histrionics and more solutions, but I see why people are frustrated.”
Of course, insults and caustic sentiment being hurled at presidents isn’t new in American politics. Barack Obama faced extreme racism and vitriol from the right even before the growth of social media. Democrats also had their share of people who gained notoriety after telling Trump off. A man who wrote “Fuck Trump” all over the signs and infrastructure of Washington, D.C., garnered a reputation in the nation’s capital. So did a woman who lost her job after displaying her middle finger at Trump’s motorcade, later winning a local county board seat in Virginia.
Asked about the anti-Biden chant, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) demurred.
“So much of what’s happening today, I just let it roll off my back. You just can’t engage with everything that’s going on and maintain your sanity,” Cornyn lamented.
But Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) urged Democrats to pay attention.
“I think it’s nice of NBC to provide this cleaner family friendly way to express [conservative] disdain for the current president, which is more than I can say for liberals when Donald Trump was president,” he said. “I’d be very concerned if I were Democrats in seeing this is not some minor little expression. This has caught on to be an illustration how frustrated Americans are of this administration.”