Politics McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee
Trump attacks McConnell as ‘political hack,’ says he will back pro-Trump candidates
The lengthy and personal diatribe escalated a growing rift in the GOP about whether it will be controlled by pro-Trump forces or those viewed as more traditional Republicans. The lengthy and personal diatribe, issued through an affiliated super PAC, confirmed that Trump plans to be an active combatant in the battle for the direction of the Republican Party that threatens to play out in the months and years to come.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who just weeks ago excoriated former President Trump on the Senate floor, blaming him for the riot at the Capitol, on Thursday said he would back Trump if he wins the party's 2024 presidential nomination.
"There's a lot to happen between now and '24. I've got at least four members that I think are planning on running for president...Should be a wide open race," McConnell said during an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier.
Asked if he would support Trump if he wins the party's nomination in 2024, McConnell added: "The nominee of the party? Absolutely."
Kentucky County GOP Chair Calls on McConnell to Resign Since Area 'Overwhelmingly' Supports Trump
"Given that the county party that I represent supports President Trump overwhelmingly, and your complete and total disdain for the will of your constituents here in Nelson county I am formally demanding you immediately resign," Don Thrasher, the Nelson County GOP chairman, said."Given that the county party that I represent supports President Trump overwhelmingly, and your complete and total disdain for the will of your constituents here in Nelson county I am formally demanding you immediately resign your leadership position within our party's caucus in the United States Senate," Thrasher said in a statement, referring to McConnell.
The statement represents a remarkable about-face for McConnell, who had in the immediate aftermath of the impeachment trial had signaled he wanted his party to turn sharply from Trump.
That move sparked criticism from other Republicans, and McConnell has been quiet about Trump in subsequent weeks.
The remarks on Fox News are McConnell's first to directly address Trump since the former president lashed out in a blistering statement after the GOP leader blamed him for the attack on the Capitol.
McConnell, in the floor speech, did not sound like a Republican who would again back the former president on another White House run.
He said Trump was "morally responsible" for the attack, where a pro-Trump mob breached the building in an effort to stop the counting of the Electoral College vote.
Trump-McConnell rift divides GOP donors
The war between former President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is likely to turn into a battle over money as Republican donors will be forced to choose between Trump-backed and GOP-establishment candidates.The fundraising rift could prove detrimental to Republicans, who are seeking to flip both the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.Trump blasted McConnell this week after the Senate GOP leader said Trump was responsible for the Jan. 6 riot. Trump vowed to back primary opponents who are more aligned with his base, setting up a battle over the future of the Republican party.
Trump fired back in a statement calling McConnell a "a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack."
McConnell declined to talk about Trump's criticism during his weekly press conference. And after Baier played a clip of his floor speech, where he issued the Trump criticism, McConnell instead pivoted to argue that Republicans are focused on uniting against President Biden's agenda.
"My point is what happened in the past is not something relevant now, we're moving forward. We've got a new administration," he said.
McConnell similarly declined to say if he blamed Trump for the party's loss of two Senate seats in Georgia or if he thought the former president should speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Trump is scheduled to speak there Sunday.
"I don't have any advice to give the former president about where he should speak or what we should say," McConnell said.
Matt Gaetz Leads Charge for Trump 2024, but Some of Ex-President's Voters Are Moving On
The Republican congressman said the former president was "talking absolutely like a candidate" when the pair met recently.In a recent Newsmax interview, Trump did not rule out running for the White House again, saying: "I won't say yet, but we have tremendous support.
Republicans fumed at Trump after the Capitol attack, which directly endangered former Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers in both parties.
But the former president retains a vice-like grip on a base of voters that Republicans will need to win back the House and Senate, and he's shown no signs of shrinking away from the political spotlight.
McConnell, during the Fox News interview, emphasized trying to unite the party heading into the midterms. Republicans hold 50 seats, putting them on the cusp of the majority, but they are also playing defense in 20 states in 2022.
"Let's focus on winning the House and the Senate in '22," McConnell said, adding that it would give the party's next presidential nominee "whoever that may be, the best chance to be victorious."
McConnell's comments during his Fox News interview drew immediate praise from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Graham, who traveled to Florida last weekend to talk about 2022 with Trump, had criticized McConnell's floor speech.
"Very good statement by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell tonight on @FoxNews indicating that he's bullish on the Republican Party's future in 2022 and beyond and is looking forward not backwards," Graham tweeted.
Republicans have built a cult of personality around Trump that glosses over his disgraced presidency .
As leading Republicans whitewash Trump's legacy and enable the personality cult surrounding him, it's also revealing deep fractures in the party. In a mid-February statement explaining why he was voting to convict Trump over the Capitol riot in the former president's Senate impeachment trial, GOP Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska warned about the dangers of "tribalism." Sasse was effectively calling out his Republican colleagues who were standing by Trump despite the damning, indisputable evidence against him on top of his relentless attacks on the foundations of America's democracy.