McConnell Carefully Avoids Topic Of Trump Grip On GOP During KY Interview

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrives at a news briefing after the weekly Senate Republican Policy Luncheon at Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April... WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrives at a news briefing after the weekly Senate Republican Policy Luncheon at Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Senate GOPs held their weekly policy luncheon to discuss Republican agenda. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
May 10, 2021 12:56 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) painstaking beat around the bush when asked about former President Trump’s enduring influence on the Republican Party during an interview with a Kentucky PBS affiliate that aired Monday.

McConnell, was asked whether he is concerned about the former president’s enduring grip on the Republican Party, largely avoided the question, and opted to instead talk about his record being elected to lead his caucus eight times without opposition.

McConnell then pivoted to saying that “best thing” Republicans can do is to focus on the Biden administration and regaining the majority in Congress.

“What ’22 ought to be is a referendum, and it often is, on the performance of the new administration,” McConnell said. “And frequently it’s not a good experience for the party of the administration.”

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McConnell pointed to former President Bill Clinton, who lost both the House and Senate two years into his first term, and Barack Obama, who similarly lost the House in 2010. The Senate minority leader also cited Trump losing the House majority two years after he entered office.

“Frequently, the American people have some level of buyers’ remorse two years in,” McConnell said. “So I think the ’22 election is not going to be about what Republicans are maybe saying about each other, but rather how the American people feel about the performance of the new administration.”

Trump has held a grudge against McConnell since he scolded the then-President for inciting the mob behind the Capitol insurrection, and has issued attacks on him via press release in recent months.

Asked whether he would support Trump if the former president launches a presidential bid in 2024, McConnell didn’t explicitly voice his support for Trump, but said that it’s safe to say that he will support the Republican nominee regardless.

McConnell speculated that the 2024 presidential race will be contested, before insisting that most Republican lawmakers are focused on next year’s midterm elections.

McConnell’s avoidance of engaging on the issue of Trump’s enduring influence on the GOP comes amid House Republicans pushing for Rep. Liz Cheney’s ouster as the conference’s chair as she vehemently refuses to bend to the former president’s election fraud falsehoods in the aftermath of her impeachment vote against him for “incitement of insurrection.”

McConnell did not vote to convict the former president, claiming it was unconstitutional to do so once he had left office, but in a speech immediately following Trump’s acquittal was critical of Trump’s role in inciting the insurrection.

McConnell has dodged when asked about the GOP outrage against Cheney, telling reporters last week that “100 percent” of his focus is stopping the Biden administration.

Last month, Trump reportedly derided McConnell as a “dumb son of a bitch” during the RNC’s spring donor retreatĀ for not opposing the November election results.

Watch McConnell’s remarks below:

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