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Mitch McConnell: Stephen Bannon 'not a factor' and 'has no impact'

Mitch McConnell: Stephen Bannon 'not a factor' and 'has no impact'
© Camille Fine

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure MORE (R-Ky.) says Stephen Bannon and his allies are “not a factor in my life” and have “no impact” on Republicans’ ability to run the Senate or keep their majority in 2018.

McConnell doesn’t like to mention the former White House chief strategist by name and when asked about his political nemesis at a “News Shapers” event Thursday sponsored by Axios, insisted, “I don’t have any observations on him at all.”

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But when pressed, McConnell, only referring to Bannon as “that element,” said he’s “not a factor in my life,” and “has no impact on our ability to function in the Senate, nor will it have any impact on the campaign.”

Bannon, who has returned to Breitbart News since leaving the White House, has called on McConnell to resign as Senate majority leader and last month said that he doesn’t expect the Kentucky Republicans to be in the GOP leadership a year from now.

McConnell told Axios’s Mike Allen on Thursday that the feeling is mutual and blamed Bannon for Republicans losing the Alabama special election earlier this month, which shrinks their Senate majority to 51 seats next year.

“The people you’re talking about, that element, just managed to blow a Senate race in the reddest state in America; that is not a formula for victory,” he said.

McConnell said that the Senate Republican leadership will play an aggressive role in primaries next year to help candidates who have the best chances of winning general-election races against Democrats.

“So to the extent that there are people running in primaries around the country who have no chance of winning the election, we will oppose them,” he said.

McConnell repeated his argument that Republicans lost should-win races in 2010 and 2012 because Tea Party-favored candidates beat out the candidates he favored in GOP primaries.

Specially, McConnell felt Republicans threw away golden opportunities to win in Delaware when Christine O’Donnell beat former Rep. Mike Castle (R) in a 2010 primary and in Nevada when Sharron Angel won a primary to face former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake MORE (D).

He said GOP leaders in Washington “were more passive about primaries in 2010 and 2012 and threw away races in Delaware and Nevada and Missouri and Indiana.”

“We’re not doing that anymore,” he added.