Republicans appear to be on the verge of retaking control over both the House of Representatives and the Senate during this autumn’s midterm elections.
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is warning that the GOP could still mess it up — and he seems ready to place the blame on former President Donald Trump.
“From an atmospheric point of view, it’s a perfect storm of problems for the Democrats,” McConnell said at an event in Kentucky this week, according to The Hill. “How could you screw this up? It’s actually possible. And we’ve had some experience with that in the past.”
He pointed to 2010 and 2012, when the GOP seemed on the cusp of taking the Senate, only to miss out on the majority due to primary voters selecting candidates who are “just sort of unacceptable to a broader group of people.”
McConnell didn’t mention Trump by name during that portion of his comments.
He also didn’t name the candidates who he sees as “unacceptable” to voters.
But the remarks come as Trump has released a series of primary endorsements, some of which have raised eyebrows among party officials.
In Pennsylvania, for example, he endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz who, like Trump, was a longtime TV personality before entering politics.
Both mainstream GOPers and MAGA faithful were unhappy with the decision.
Party leaders aren’t crazy with a political novice in a competitive high-profile race and are concerned over the fact that he’s lived in New Jersey until recently – something Pennsylvania voters may resent.
And Trump fans don’t love that Oz hasn’t been a vocal supporter of the former president until now. Longtime Trump ally and former chief strategist Steve Bannon was livid on his podcast, dismissing Oz as “the most anti-MAGA guy… floating in from Jersey.”
McConnell was a little more measured when asked about the endorsement on Fox News Sunday – but came across as very much underwhelmed.
“I guess we’ll find in the next few weeks how much this endorsement made a difference,” he said.
Republicans have momentum on their side as public opinion turns against President Joe Biden and the Democrats amid high inflation and other, similar problems both at home and abroad.
It’s widely believed the GOP will easily retake control over the House, but there’s a tougher hill to climb in the Senate as the GOP is defending 21 seats this autumn, compared to just 14 for Democrats.
Most of those are solidly in one column or the other, with five rated as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report… three of which are currently held by Democrats, giving the GOP a window of opportunity.
Flipping just one will hand control over to Republicans.
However, party infighting… including the long-simmering feud between Trump and McConnell… could threaten those chances.
McConnell, for his part, tried to downplay any tensions with Trump, at least publicly.
“Some of you may not have heard that my latest nickname is Old Crow. It was given to me by the former president, who’s apparently not a fan,” he said this week at an event in Kentucky, according to Newsweek. “And my response was, I wanted to thank him because this was Henry Clay’s favorite bourbon.”
Clay was both a representative and senator from Kentucky in the 19th century, and also served as House speaker and was secretary of state under President John Quincy Adams.
McConnell might not be in a joking mood if the GOP does retake the Senate as Trump’s endorsements reportedly come with a catch: Anyone who takes it has to vote against McConnell as majority leader.
That could leave McConnell an outcast in the body he once ruled come January 2023.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert.