Thursday, March 23

Mitch McConnell — whom Trump continually mocked and criticized — again says he’d back Trump if the former president became the GOP’s 2024 presidential candidate

A side-by-side image of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former president Donald Trump.

Sen. Mitch McConnell has been continually mocked and criticized by former President Donald Trump.Getty Images; Getty Images

  • Mitch McConnell again said he’d back Donald Trump if Trump were the 2024 GOP presidential nominee.

  • Jonathan Swan asked why, as McConnell had called Trump “morally responsible” for the Capitol riot.

  • McConnell responded: “I think I have an obligation to support the nominee of my party.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has again said he’d back Donald Trump if the former president were to win the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, citing an “obligation” to support the party’s nominee.

McConnell reiterated his stance on Trump’s candidacy — which he first disclosed early last year — in an interview with the Axios journalist Jonathan Swan this week.

“Help me understand this. I watched your speech last year in February on the Senate floor after the second impeachment vote for Donald Trump. And it was an extraordinary speech,” Swan said, referring to a February 13, 2021, speech from McConnell.

“You spoke very powerfully against the most powerful figure in the party, the president. And you said Donald Trump’s actions preceding the January 6 insurrection were a — quote — disgraceful dereliction of duty and that he was practically morally responsible, your words, for provoking the events of that day,” Swan added. “How do you go from saying that to two weeks later saying you’d absolutely support Donald Trump if he’s the Republican nominee in 2024?”

McConnell responded that it should not be “a front-page headline” that he as the Senate GOP leader would support the Republican nominee.

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“I think I have an obligation to support the nominee of my party,” McConnell said. “That will mean that whoever the nominee is has gone out and earned the nomination.”

“It’s not at all inconsistent,” he added. “I stand by everything I said about January 6 and everything on February 13.”

He continued: “I don’t get to pick the Republican nominee for president. They’re elected by the Republican voters all over the country.”

Swan said Rep. Liz Cheney appeared to hold a similar view to McConnell on Trump’s responsibility for the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot but argued that, unlike McConnell, Cheney thought there were “some things more important than party loyalty.”

“I’m actually trying to understand. Is there any threshold for you?” Swan pressed.

“You know, I say many things I’m sure people don’t understand,” McConnell said.

McConnell’s apparent ongoing receptiveness toward a 2024 Trump candidacy comes after months in which Trump has berated, criticized, and mocked him.

In November, Trump hit out at McConnell several times. That month, the former president slammed McConnell for backing President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill, calling him a “RINO,” an acronym for Republican In Name Only. He also gave McConnell the moniker “Old Crow” and accused him of “jeopardizing” other Republican senators’ reelection chances.

In January, he called McConnell a “loser” for defending GOP Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, who contradicted Trump’s false voter-fraud claims.

And in February, Trump said McConnell didn’t speak for the Republican Party or the “vast majority of its voters.” That month, Trump also asked Sen. Rick Scott to challenge McConnell for Senate GOP leader, adding to the long-standing rift between the two. This was after McConnell seemingly shrugged off rumors that Trump might attempt to oust him as the party’s Senate leader if the GOP were to take the chamber in the midterms.

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McConnell has also publicly broken with Trump. In February, he said he wouldn’t be in favor of shortening any of the January 6 rioters’ sentences after Trump floated the possibility of pardoning people with January 6-related convictions. The New York Times also reported in February that McConnell was quietly working behind the scenes to try to ensure some candidates backed by Trump, whom he was said to have called “goofballs,” didn’t win their Senate primaries.

Trump has heavily hinted at a 2024 run but hasn’t formally announced a campaign.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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