Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who earlier this month erected a veritable tower of reasons why he was angry at former President Donald Trump over the events that led to the Capitol incursion Jan. 6, said Thursday he would go with the flow if the Republican Party were to nominate Trump to run for the White House in 2024.
The former president had responded to McConnell’s harsh criticism with a Trumpian torrent of angry words that denounced McConnell’s leadership and personality.
“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” Trump said in a statement Feb. 16.
McConnell stepped back from the brink of their feud Thursday during an appearance on the Fox News show “Special Report.”
He said he would “absolutely” support Trump if the former president comes out on top after the 2024 primaries are over.
“There’s a lot to happen between now and ’24,” McConnell said, noting that whatever the 2024 presidential field might seem to be today, it is going to become a lot more crowded.
“I’ve got at least four members that I think are planning on running for president, plus some governors and others. There is no incumbent — should be a wide-open race and fun for you all to cover.”
Although Trump had said McConnell could never lead the GOP to victory, the Kentucky Republican gently pushed back.
“The Republican Party is actually in very good shape,” the Senate minority leader said.
“We gained seats in the House. We elected 50 Republican senators when everybody was predicting we were going to lose the Senate. The Democrats didn’t flip a single state legislature. We flipped two [and] picked up a governor,” he said.
McConnell said that on balance, the party as a whole did well in 2020.
“The Republican Party had a very good day on Nov. 3,” McConnell said. “We’re sorry we lost the White House, but the Republican Party demonstrated once again this is a 50/50 nation, we are very competitive and will be competitive again in ’22.”
Suggesting that a few hot words do not an intraparty feud make, McConnell said House Democrats are the real hotbed of internecine warfare in Washington.
“The progressives make it extremely difficult for Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi to operate given the narrow margin she has overall in the House,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s lurch to the left upon taking office has helped given Republicans a reason to unite, McConnell said.
“I think the Biden administration is making it easy for us to get together. I think we’ve unified in opposition to this new administration’s extremely progressive approach. President Biden has made it quite easy for us to get together,” he said.
When asked to send Trump supporters a message about the GOP, McConnell suggested putting first things first before worrying about 2024.
“I would say to everybody who’s inclined to support our right-of-center Republican Party, let’s focus on winning the house and the Senate in ’22,” McConnell said. “That will set up the next nominee for president, whoever that may be, [with] the best chance to be victorious.”
Trump is scheduled to speak Sunday at the Conservative Political Action Conference and is also expected to focus on the future of the Republican Party.