WASHINGTON (CNN) — Donald Trump’s willingness to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is receiving scant backing from Republicans on Capitol Hill, with a former rival taking a shot at the presumptive GOP nominee’s lack of foreign policy knowledge.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race two months ago, told CNN Wednesday that efforts to talk to North Korea in the past “haven’t gone anywhere,” saying Kim is “not a stable person.”
Asked if he were concerned about his party’s standard-bearer taking such a position, Rubio said of Trump: “He’s not a professional, political guy. You know my differences with him. This is not an issue he’s dealt with for a long time. So I imagine he’s kind of working his way through all of this.”
Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, added: “Hopefully he’ll have people around him the whole time that will shed a little bit more light over all this.”
On Tuesday, Trump surprised many Republicans with his comments to Reuters, saying of Kim:
“I would speak to him, I would have no problem speaking to him.”
Even though Trump’s views are largely unknown on many policy issues, congressional Republicans were taken aback by his latest remarks given they had criticized Barack Obama relentlessly in 2008 for saying he’d meet with Iran and other authoritarian regimes “without preconditions.”
Trump’s comments underscore the challenges Republicans are bound to face in dealing with the unpredictability of their likely nominee.
Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee who bashed Obama for his foreign policy positions, said, “I disagree” when asked about Trump’s position.
“He suggest lots of things,” McCain said when asked if he were concerned Trump would make such a suggestion.
On Wednesday, Sen. Ron Johnson, a GOP member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who also faces a tough reelection this year in Wisconsin, would not align himself with Trump’s remarks.
“I think we need to put pressure on the Chinese, to put pressure on the North Koreans — is what our approach ought to be,” Johnson said in an interview when asked about Trump’s plan.
Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Sessions — one of Trump’s leading surrogates — was cautious when asked about the idea.
“Well you just have to be very careful about that,” said Sessions, an Alabama Republican. “If he means actually opening up a possibility of a discussion to see if it’s fruitful, that’s one thing.”
Others didn’t even want to touch it.
“Like I said, I’m not going to get into the habit to respond to the daily dissertations of the presidential race,” said Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, adding that he’d only do so from time-to-time.