But McConnell doesn’t see his clash with the former President emerging as much of an issue — at least not yet.
McConnell had a warning of sorts to Republican candidates running on Trump’s false claims.
“It’s important for candidates to remember we need to respect the results of our democratic process unless the court system demonstrates that some significant fraud occurred that would change the outcome,” McConnell said.
And that single factor most certainly could be Trump.
“I still say it’s 50-50,” McConnell said, assessing the GOP chances to take back the Senate. Comparing Biden’s first midterm election to then-President Barack Obama’s in 2010, McConnell recalled that the Senate GOP at the time “nominated some unelectable candidates.” But he noted that Republicans only had 40 seats at the beginning of that cycle, compared to 50 now.
“It took us six years to climb out of that hole,” McConnell said of 2010. “We’re not in a hole now.”
“I think from an atmospheric point of view it’s highly likely to be a situation where the wind is at our backs,” he added.
“I think I can pretty confidently say, we won’t lose any elections over that issue, anywhere in the country,” McConnell said. “People are concerned about a wholly different set of concerns. Inflation, an out-of-control border, Afghanistan withdrawal, the controversy over covid. I mean, the thought that a single Senate race in America would be decided over that issue strikes me as being wildly out of touch with what the American people are interested in.”
Courting governors despite Trump’s wrath
Other potential clashes with Trump could still yet occur.
Ducey continues to publicly say he’s not interested in running, while Hogan has yet to express serious interest in a Senate bid. McConnell said, “I just don’t know” if they’ll mount campaigns.
“Well, they’d both be ideal candidates, for obvious reasons,” McConnell said of Hogan and Ducey. “Both enjoy high approval ratings, and I think would make both those races instantly competitive.”
“We think New Hampshire is going to be much more receptive to Republicans as well, and we think we’ll have a good candidate there,” McConnell said.
Biden cited Sununu’s comments to rail on Republicans at his press conference last week. And McConnell refused to tell reporters last week what the GOP agenda would be if his party were to take back the Senate, saying instead the election will be a referendum on Biden.
Asked why Senate Republicans didn’t have an election-year agenda, McConnell told CNN: “I think it’s important for every candidate running next year to say what he or she is for.”