McConnell calls Trump ‘diminished’ and vows to find better Senate candidates next time
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell says former president Donald Trump’s influence in the Republican Party is on the wane and is vowing to take a more active role in discouraging unelectable senate candidates of the ilk Mr Trump endorsed in 2022.
Mr McConnell told NBC News he and the allies who run the Senate Leadership Fund political action committee will be “less inclined to accept cards that may be dealt to us” by endorsements from Mr Trump, who he has blamed for making the Republican Party’s image toxic among suburban independent and swing voters, two groups who largely defected to Democrats over the last few election cycles.
He said Mr Trump’s support was “so significant” in some states that boosting a more electable candidate in 2022 would have taken “a lot of money” with those efforts “maybe not succeeding,” so he made the decision to stay out of primaries in such scenarios.
“My conclusion was that everywhere else, we had to play with the cards that were dealt,” he said, adding later: “Our biggest problem was candidate quality”.
As a result, the Kentucky Republican said the GOP performed below expectations in “every state” and took “fatal” blows in key races in Arizona, New Hampshire and Georgia.
“We lost support that we needed among independents and moderate Republicans, primarily related to the view they had of us as a party – largely made by the former president – that we were sort of nasty and tended toward chaos,” he said.
“And oddly enough, even though that subset of voters did not approve of President Biden, they didn’t have enough confidence in us in several instances to give us the majority we needed.”
Mr McConnell also said the GOP can “do a better job with less potential interference” from Mr Trump, who he suggested “may have other things to do” in the future — an oblique reference to Mr Trump’s growing legal troubles in the wake of the House January 6 committee’s final report.
Asked what has changed from the cycle that ended just a month and a few weeks ago, he replied: “ I think the former president’s political clout has diminished”.