Newly sworn-in Republican Sen. Jon Kyl said Thursday that President Donald Trump can be his "own worst enemy" at times and should keep his focus on his successes -- like the state of the economy -- and not "pick unnecessary fights."
Speaking to a small group of reporters a day after he was returned to the Capitol to replace the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, Kyl was asked about the swirl of controversy at the White House, including Bob Woodward's new book and an anonymously written op-ed that appeared in the New York Times Wednesday.
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"I haven't read the books. I haven't had very much time to catch up on all of this news that's breaking in the last 48 hours," he said, before adding that Trump could be more disciplined in the way he communicates.
"A great politician sometimes doesn't step on his own story if he's really got a good story to tell, for example. President Trump is not a politician like most the people who came to that office. He'll step on his lines sometimes," Kyl said.
Kyl, who served in the House and Senate for almost 30 years before retiring in 2013, said he was pleased when he saw a recent tweet from Trump heralding the strong economy.
"Talk about the successes, don't pick unnecessary fights," Kyl said. "I think we can all be critical of how we each deal with our own positions. He's President, let him deal with the presidency. I'll be a senator for a while and do the best I can."
Kyl has worked in recent months with the White House to assist the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whose confirmation hearings are underway this week.
Kyl rose to be the second-ranking elected Republican before he left the Senate. He was asked if he intended to be a strong check on Trump, as McCain had been. McCain died of brain cancer August 25.
"[My] great friend had different qualities than I do, and he approached the job somewhat differently," he said. "We each approach it in a different way. I think people know me, that's one of the reasons the governor thought it would be all right to ask me to serve in this position. And I am not going to change the way I am regardless of who is president."
Kyl said he supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, something McCain blocked with a dramatic thumb down gesture on the Senate floor just over a year ago.
"Would I vote today to repeal Obamacare? Yeah," Kyl said.
It's not clear when he might have that chance. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week he doesn't intend to bring that measure up again at least until after the midterm elections.