McConnell brushes off Trump criticism: ‘We’re looking to the future, not the past’
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brushed off criticism from former President Trump on Thursday, signaling that he thinks the party needs to move on.
“Well look, we’re looking to the future, not the past. And if you want to see the future of the Republican Party watch Tim Scott’s response to President Biden last night,” McConnell said during a Fox News interview on Thursday.
“He’s the future. That’s where we’re headed. We’re not preoccupied with the past but looking forward,” he added.
McConnell’s remarks come after Trump doubled down on his criticism of McConnell.
Asked by Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo how Republicans will fare in the 2022 elections, Trump said he expects GOP candidates to do very well but said the party needs new leadership in the Senate.
“I think we’re going to do very well. We need good leadership. Mitch McConnell has not done a great job, I think they should change Mitch McConnell,” Trump said during the interview Thursday morning.
McConnell and Trump are polar opposite personalities but were strong allies through most of the previous administration, with the Senate GOP leader frequently refusing to weigh in on some of Trump’s biggest scandals.
But their relationship unraveled late last year and the two haven’t spoken since mid-December.
Senate Republicans have blamed Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud for damaging them in Georgia, where the losses cost them the Senate majority. Though McConnell voted to acquit Trump in his second impeachment trial, he also denounced him from the Senate floor as “morally responsible” for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where a pro-Trump mob breached the building for hours.
Despite Trump’s remarks, McConnell’s grip on the Senate GOP caucus remains solid. Asked on Thursday if he was concerned that GOP voters listened to Trump’s comments about him, McConnell sidestepped, reiterating that “what we’re doing is focusing on the future.”
Even as McConnell is signaling that he’s eager to turn the page, he said Thursday that he will support the GOP’s White House nominee in 2024, even if it’s Trump.
“Well I’m going to support the nominee of the Republican Party. I do predict however that there’s going to be a robust competition for the nomination,” he said, noting that several members of his own caucus are eyeing a run.
“Once that all sorts itself out, as the Republican leader of the Senate obviously I’ll be supporting the Republican nominee for president,” he added.