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McConnell sets sights on retaking Senate control for GOP

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is turning his focus to retaking the majority in 2022, saying he would back Republican primary candidates based on their electability, even if it meant opposing rivals backed by former President Donald Trump, he revealed in a new interview.

“My goal is, in every way possible, to have nominees representing the Republican Party who can win in November. Some of them may be people the former president likes. Some of them may not be. The only thing I care about is electability,” the highest-ranking Republican official told Politico in a telephone interview over the weekend.

The Kentucky senator went on to warn, however, that this did not mean he planned to automatically oppose any Trump-endorsed candidates.

“I’m not predicting the president would support people who couldn’t win. But I do think electability — not who supports who — is the critical point,” he argued.

The Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, though Vice President Kamala Harris has a tie-breaking vote, giving the left a single-vote advantage.

Despite being in the minority now, McConnell expressed confidence about the upcoming race.

Donald Trump speaks to the press alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he arrives on Capitol Hill on March 26, 2019.
President Donald Trump speaks to the press alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he arrives on Capitol Hill on March 26, 2019.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

“The difference between now and 2009 is the difference between 40 and 50. I was there in 2009. I know what it looks like after you got clobbered. We didn’t get clobbered. We lost the White House.”

Asked if he would stand in opposition if Trump sought the White House again in 2024, McConnell declined to answer, saying simply, “I’m focused on ’22.”

Kamala Harris has the tie-breaking vote in the 50-50 split Senate.
Vice President Kamala Harris has the tie-breaking vote in the 50-50 Senate.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Kentucky Republican voted to acquit the former president in last week’s Senate impeachment trial.

Still, he argued that Trump bore the moral responsibility for the Capitol siege last month that got him impeached in the House.

“President Trump is constitutionally not eligible for conviction” as a result of already having left office, but “there is no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day,” he said on the Senate floor.


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