Where Things Stand: McConnell Leaves 2024 Door Wide Open

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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 12: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) speaks as Senate Minority Whip Sen. John Thune (R-SD) (R) listens during a news briefing after a weekly Senate Republican policy ... WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 12: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) speaks as Senate Minority Whip Sen. John Thune (R-SD) (R) listens during a news briefing after a weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on July 12, 2022 in Washington, DC. Senate GOPs held a weekly policy luncheon to discuss Republican agenda. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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It’s standard protocol for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to say a little bit in order to say a lot, and without actually having to say the thing you know he’s actually saying. But this little remark from this afternoon is worth noting, even though he is typically evasive.

During a press briefing with Republicans today, McConnell was asked for his response to Donald Trump potentially launching another bid for president in 2024. Trump recently spoke to New York Magazine about his ambitions. He’s been weird and cryptic ever since it was reported not too far into Biden’s presidency that he was privately weighing running again in 2024. He’s done nothing to shut down those reports and has done plenty of winking and nodding and elbow nudging and general flirting in the 2024 direction for months in public.

Even during the New York Magazine interview, Trump was cartoonishly mystifying. He repeated the word “decision” about 20 times. He claimed that he’s made up his mind about running, made it pretty clear what his decision was (running) and said he was still mulling whether he should announce that decision before or after the Midterms.

“Look,” he said, “I feel very confident that, if I decide to run, I’ll win.”

That was the clearest remark in the interview.

Back to McConnell. McConnell had an equally ambiguous response to the reporter’s question about how he would respond to a potential 2024 bid. He instead focused on the impending presidential primaries:

“I think we’re going to have a crowded field for president,” he said. “I assume that most of that will unfold later and people will be picking their candidates during a crowded primary field.”

It’s not a lot, but it’s notable that he chose to envision a crowded primary field instead of responding directly to the Trump question. It’s not surprising: Trump’s been publicly yelling at McConnell for what feels like years at this point.

Trump was irked by McConnell calling him out over the insurrection and he has spent the last year or so coming up with bunch of nicknames for the top Republican. The two have also been, essentially, fighting head to head with Trump’s primary endorsements — McConnell pushing more traditional, electable Republicans in the face of Trump’s endorsement of extremists and randos and TV celebrities — whoever will help keep his grievances alive.

But McConnell is not easily moved by Trump’s pettiness and he said back in April that he has “an obligation to support the nominee of my party.” That line of thinking likely hasn’t changed for McConnell, so why not repeat it?

There have been a few massively consequential events since April that may or may not contribute to the squirming — the overturning of Roe, the loosening of gun laws, the Jan. 6 Select Committee hearings. One of these is not like the others.

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