McConnell calls Trump ‘diminished,’ vows to find ‘quality’ Senate candidates in 2024
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said former President Trump’s political power is “diminished” following his endorsed candidates’ lackluster performance in the midterm elections and vowed to find “quality” candidates for Senate races in 2024.
“Here’s what I think has changed: I think the former president’s political clout has diminished,” McConnell said in an interview with NBC News released on Friday.
Despite predictions of a “red wave” in this November’s midterm elections, Republicans lost ground in the Senate and only managed to secure a slim majority in the House. Many in the GOP have since placed the blame on Trump and the far-right candidates he supported.
“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,” McConnell told NBC.
“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,” he continued.
McConnell initially voiced concerns in August about Republicans’ chances in the Senate, pointing to a “candidate quality” issue in an apparent reference to the extreme candidates endorsed by Trump.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell cautioned at an event in his home state of Kentucky in mid-August. “Senate races are just different — they’re statewide. Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”
Looking back at the midterms, McConnell said that he and the Republican super PAC, Senate Leadership Fund, made the conclusion that “we had to play with the cards that were dealt.”
In some states, McConnell said, “Trump’s support was so significant — we could have spent a lot of money, maybe trying to come up with a different candidate and maybe not succeeding.”
However, the Senate minority leader said that the former president’s waning political power has made Republicans “less inclined to accept cards that may be dealt to us” in 2024.
“We can do a better job with less potential interference,” he added. “The former president may have other things to do.”
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