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McCarthy told Trump trashing mail-in voting will hurt Republicans: report

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Trump at CPAC foments 2022 GOP primary wars McCarthy: No commitment from Trump to not target Republicans MORE (R-Calif.) reportedly said he told President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE that criticism of mail-in voting will hurt Republicans in the upcoming election. 

"I tried to show him ... you know who is most afraid of COVID? Seniors. And if they're not going to go vote, period, we're screwed," McCarthy told an Axios reporter, according to a report published Sunday. 

The top House Republican told the outlet that he spent hours warning the president that his preoccupation with slamming mail-in voting will not only him but also Republicans running for Congress. 

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“We could lose based on that," McCarthy told Axios. 

McCarthy also encouraged Republicans to vote by any means necessary as he campaigned for candidates in Oregon and Utah last week, Axios reported. 

McCarthy said he agrees with Trump that there’s a difference between absentee and mail-in voting and said the latter is particularly problematic in states without the infrastructure to handle such ballots on a massive scale, Axios reported. 

Voting experts do not distinguish between absentee and mail-in voting. 

Last month, Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpJill Biden picks up where she left off The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden navigates pressures from Dems Former first lady launches 'Office of Melania Trump' MORE submitted their absentee ballots in Florida ahead of the state’s scheduled primaries. 

The president has railed against mail-in voting, making unsubstantiated claims that it leads to widespread voter fraud. Democrats have largely pushed for expanded mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic to limit crowds at in-person voting locations on Election Day.