Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell encouraged Republican Senators up for reelection in 2020 to avoid tying their campaigns to President Donald Trump and instead run independent races based on how they have performed for their constituents, The Associated Press reports. Before Trump was elected, many Republicans embraced a political strategy of aligning closely with Trump, who remains wildly popular among the Republican base. Now, McConnell is suggesting that GOP Senators distance themselves from the presidential contest altogether and instead take a different approach.
“From a Senate point of view I’m going to be arguing, and I’m encouraging my colleagues to argue, that we’re the firewall against socialism in this country,” McConnell said, describing a line of political rhetoric that has increased sharply since the 2018 midterms, which brought a number of outspoken, left-leaning congressional freshman who have managed to dominate headlines with their enthusiastic support of policy positions such as a Green New Deal and Medicare for All.
McConnell, who is up for reelection himself in his home state of Kentucky, has acknowledged the substantial erosion of Republican support in American suburbs, which was a major contributor to Democratic success in 2018.
“There’s no good reason for your typical suburban resident to be frightened by this Republican Senate,” he said.
Democrats, meanwhile, are attempting to make sure that vulnerable Republican Senators are, in fact, not able to distance themselves from the president as they work to characterize the entire party as generally beholden to Trump’s wishes.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has said that Republicans won’t be able to celebrate bipartisan accomplishments while also continuing to show their loyalty to the consistently partisan and combative Trump.
McConnell, alternatively, is telling fellow Senators that their own accomplishments and that of the Republican-held Senate, as a whole, is sufficiently substantial to outshine whatever is taking place on the national stage. McConnell’s position may be influenced by the possibility that another dramatic Trump campaign akin to 2016, coupled with any number of up and coming Democrats currently competing for the nomination, could make for a political circus that is best avoided at the congressional level.
“I think we’re planning on running independent campaigns, and if they take my advice I think the best argument for us is they are fundamentally trying to change America into something it’s never been, and if you want to make sure that doesn’t happen, go out and elect a Senate Republican majority,” McConnell said.