Mitch McConnell Says He May Not Support Trump-Backed Candidates: ‘The Only Thing I Care About Is Electability’
In an interview with Politico published on Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he may not endorse candidates former President Donald Trump backs in the 2022 midterm elections.
Trump has indicated that he will seek to maintain an active presence in conservative politics, vowing to support primary challengers against lawmakers he believes wronged him by refusing to endorse his conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.
McConnell needs to pick up just one Senate seat to become majority leader once again, and he told Politico that he is determined to do so.
“My goal is, in every way possible, to have nominees representing the Republican Party who can win in November,” McConnell said.
“Some of them may be people the former president likes. Some of them may not be. The only thing I care about is electability.”
“I’m not predicting the president would support people who couldn’t win. But I do think electability — not who supports who — is the critical point,” he added.
McConnell and Trump have butted heads in the past, but the top Republican has mostly ignored the controversies involving the former commander-in-chief, focusing his efforts on appointing judges and passing conservative legislation.
Now, with Trump out of the picture and lacking access to a real platform, McConnell is widely seen as the de facto leader of the GOP. Multiple senators described him as such, including those who are already bracing for Trump-backed primary challengers.
McConnell refused to comment on the possibility of Trump running again in 2024 and said that all he cares about is winning back the upper chamber in two years.
The Kentucky senator voted to acquit Trump in the impeachment trial, but he nonetheless delivered a scathing speech, slamming the former commander-in-chief for inciting violence against elected representatives.
His comments did not sit well with pro-Trump Republicans. According to Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, many of them were “frustrated” with McConnell’s remarks and felt like he was deepening the divisions within the party.
“The future of the party will be determined in places like Wyoming in ’22,” McConnell said, suggesting that he may get involved in Rep. Liz Cheney’s race.
Cheney was one of the 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump. She has faced intense backlash for doing so, with pro-Trump lawmakers threatening to support her primary challengers.
McConnell concluded the interview by saying that the GOP is in much better shape now than it was in 2009, when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House.
“I know what it looks like after you got clobbered. We didn’t get clobbered. We lost the White House,” he said.