Trump-McConnell rift threatens the hopes of the GOP Senate

After Trump urged Republicans to pull away from McConnell, POLITICO reached out to all 16 Republican senators running for re-election in 2022 on Wednesday to ask if they supported the Kentuckian as the majority leader. Only two answered.

“Leader McConnell has my full support and confidence,” said Senator John Thune (RS.D.), the No. 2 Republican who drew Trump’s anger and primary threat after seeing the then president’s refusal had condemned to accept the election results in a statement to POLITICO. “Nobody understands the Senate better than he does.”

Other Republicans, meanwhile, spent Wednesday deciphering the conflict that Trump had stoked the day before, but instead of criticizing the former president, instead emphasizing his role in the GOP.

“If we get into arguments and struggles with personality, we will be in a challenging place in 2022 and 2024 – which means America will embrace socialism because we cannot get our action together on the right,” she said Senator Tim Scott (RS.C.), the other 2022 Republican who supports McConnell as leader, told Fox News Wednesday, adding that Trump was “the most powerful political figure on both sides.”

While no GOP senators have repeated Trump’s attacks on McConnell, some represent Trump, at least implicitly.

“If you look at the polls, if you look at Republicans who voted for Trump, they would rather have Mitch McConnell or Donald Trump as party leader – it’s not even a competition,” Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) Said the conservative radio host Joe Pagliarulo this week.

McConnell, who acquitted Trump on impeachment but criticized his behavior in relation to the riot, has already threatened to enter the GOP primaries to fend off candidates he believes cannot win in a general election. In response, Trump, who was deplatformed on Twitter, posted a long statement on Tuesday beating McConnell and claiming that Republicans who stay with him should be ready to lose.

It’s not an unfamiliar position for Republican elected officials to grapple with Trump’s diatribes against their peers and competing interests within the party for the past four years – including the two months leading up to the Georgia runoff, which falsely claimed it was the November election stolen from him. With Trump leaving the White House and no longer trying to push legislation through a McConnell-controlled Senate, the question remains whether the GOP can suppress the fighting this time – or whether Trump wants to do so at all.

McConnell and Trump previously had bitter public feuds, including after the party’s failure to overturn Obamacare and during the controversial Alabama special election. Those spats broke up well before halfway through 2018, but McConnell made it clear in an interview with POLITICO last week that he would support candidates regardless of whether or not they are supported by Trump.

“The only thing that interests me is the choice,” he said.

Josh Holmes, a top adviser to McConnell, said the Senator’s “guiding principle” is to support candidates who can win. He said there could be “large overlaps” between candidates who Trump supports and candidates who are supported by the Senate’s GOP infrastructure.

“Because Trump makes an approval, or if he does an approval, that means nothing to us,” said Holmes. “We can very well support the same candidate or do nothing.”

The Trump-McConnell spit already runs back to 2022 races. Former MP Mark Walker, who became the first Republican to compete in the North Carolina Senate open race, said he disagreed with GOP Senator Richard Burr stepping down for condemning Trump, referring to McConnell’s speech in which he spoke to Trump criticized as “unnecessary”.

“I think, like it or not, former President Trump will have a huge impact on the Senate races at least for 2022 – maybe on the races in the House as well -” Walker said in an interview.

But Walker said he would be proud to have both Trump and McConnell support his campaign, despite insisting it was too early to say if he would support McConnell as a GOP leader.

“My brand has been a conservative champion and bridge builder for six years,” he said. “I think at certain times in DC people think you have to sacrifice one thing or the other. But not you. “

But Trump is making it harder for candidates to stick to the line. While on Wednesday, while paying tribute to late Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on Fox News Channel, Trump reiterated the false claim that he won the election and went after the Republicans again for not supporting him.

Democrats looking to build their incredibly tight Senate majority in 2022 believe they can benefit from the push-and-pull between Trump and McConnell, which they believe is dividing the party into key battlefields where control of the chamber will be decided.

“It’s a shame that it came here to push a progressive agenda. But I think Democrats should strike while the iron is hot, “said Tom Nelson, a Democrat running for Johnson’s Wisconsin seat.

It was only after McConnell published a Wall Street Journal this week scourging Trump that the former president decided to strike back the Senate GOP leader. Trump wasn’t happy with McConnell’s weekend reprimand from Trump in the Senate, but he saw the comment as too distant a bridge, according to a person who knew about his reaction.

Some Trump advisors criticized the former president’s broadside, saying he needs to be more surgical when it comes to holding primaries against incumbent GOP incumbents. So far, his main focus has been on the House Republicans who supported his impeachment, including MPs Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) And Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), According to people who have spoken to him.

But people close to the former president say it is McConnell who made the bigger mistake of starting the fight even when he voted for the acquittal. They argue that McConnell put the Republicans in a box, forcing them to choose between Trump – who holds the party’s base iron-like – and McConnell.

So far, aides of Republicans facing re-election in 2022 have been saying they are betting that Trump’s threats will be a wash – and that it will be months before election season is in full swing whether Trump inspired primaries will materialize. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Who opposed the confirmation of the Pennsylvania election results, was reluctant to criticize the former president and insisted that his support will be necessary for the party to die Can recapture majority.

However, the Senate map suggests that Republicans may face primary headaches. The GOP is centered on four Democratically held seats – Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire – and could face controversial primaries in each. Of the three main seats targeted by the Democrats, the GOP incumbents are retiring in two of them, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

“The only way to get through this Civil War is for everyone to focus on ’22,” said Scott Reed, a veteran GOP agent. “Focus on recruiting and leading candidates based on good Republican guidelines and ideas, and don’t make it all into a referendum on Trump.”

Comments are closed.