Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) isn’t losing sleep over former President Trump’s crusade to get him booted as leader.
That’s what the top Senate Republican told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday evening, while mocking the former president’s “Old Crow” nickname for him, which Trump adopted months ago as part of his ongoing ire toward McConnell.
“It’s my favorite bourbon,” McConnell told the Examiner, referring to the Kentucky hard liquor of the same name.
“Aren’t we using Old Crow as my moniker now?” McConnell reportedly asked a member of his staff during the interview. “It was (former Kentucky congressman and senator) Henry Clay’s favorite bourbon.”
Shrugging off Trump’s attacks have become pretty standard for McConnell at this point. And he made it clear to the Examiner on Tuesday that he’s not concerned by any of Trump’s impending crusades to replace him as Republican leader.
In the past year since the minority leader condemned Trump for his role in inciting the deadly Capitol insurrection, the former president has repeatedly swiped at McConnell for supposed insufficient loyalty. Trump has also reportedly floated a recruitment effort to oust McConnell from his leadership perch if Republicans take back the Senate in 2022.
The former president also routinely gets mad at McConnell when he joins Democrats in helping score legislative victories — that includes when McConnell voted to help pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill last year, an issue that the former president couldn’t seem to get off the ground during his four years in office.
But even as Trump allies such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threaten to vote against McConnell if he doesn’t “effectively work” with Trump, McConnell reiterated to the Examiner that he’s not sweating over the former president’s efforts to block his prospects of becoming Senate majority leader again soon.
“Every reporter in town, including, I’m sure, you, have been probing to find one for months, right?” McConnell snarked to the Examiner, referring to a potential challenger to his re-election bid as leader. “Have you found one?”
McConnell also expressed no regrets about coming around to working with Democrats to pass legislation such as raising the debt ceiling, even after he initially drew a hard line on working with them.
“The only people who could have been hurt by making the debt ceiling impossible would have been us. My guiding principle is: Don’t do things that are stupid and that take the subject off of what we want it to be on,” McConnell told the Examiner.
“The two things we could have done [in 2021] to take the attention off [the Democrats] and put it on us would be to shut down the government or threaten to default on the national debt. You can’t do that to the country either,” McConnell continued. “If it’s bad for the country and bad for Republicans, I’m against it.”
No Senate Republican has announced their support for ousting McConnell as leader nor has anyone announced a bid to challenge the top Senate Republican thus far. And McConnell has continued to break with Trump in recent days.
Last week, McConnell voiced his opposition to Trump’s pardon-dangling for insurrectionists.
“What we saw here on January 6th was an effort to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another, which had never happened before in our country,” McConnell said during a Senate GOP leaders press conference last week. “My view is, I would not be in favor of shortening any of the sentences for any of the people who pleaded guilty to crimes.”
On Tuesday, McConnell also broke with the Republican National Committee’s characterization of the insurrection as “legitimate political discourse” in its vote to censure Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) last week.
“It was a violent insurrection with the purpose of trying to prevent a peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election from one administration to the next,” McConnell said during a news conference on Tuesday.