A tamer Trump? McConnell confident GOP can retake Senate with ‘restrained’ former president

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — If Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is concerned about former President Donald Trump’s interference in the 2022 midterm elections, he hid it well under his notorious stoicism in a recent USA TODAY interview.

Many political observers say Trump cost the GOP its Senate majority ahead of the January 2021 runoff races in Georgia when he routinely made false claims about the state’s electoral integrity that allegedly hurt voter turnout. conservative voters.

When asked if the former president could once again jeopardize the GOP’s chances of retaking the chamber this year, the Kentucky Republican now sees a much more docile Trump.

“So far this cycle, he’s been pretty restricted in his nominations,” McConnell told USA TODAY in a one-on-one interview.

“So I don’t see that as a problem. Obviously it’s important for him to win and so he’s been pretty careful with his main endorsements in most of our races, and I think that’s because ‘ he doesn’t want to run with someone who doesn’t actually win the primary.”

The Senate is split 50-50, with Democrats holding the deciding vote for Vice President Kamala Harris, meaning Republicans only need to flip one seat in the fall to take control of the chamber .

McConnell exudes confidence about being Senate Majority Leader next year and thinks the current environment and history of the midterm elections tilts in favor of the GOP.

“Obviously the mood couldn’t be better,” he said. “I think there is (a) high probability that the wind is at our back, and that is obviously very important.

“But,” the GOP leader warned, “you have to have candidates who can win.”
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, left, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talk from the escalator as senators gather for a briefing on the war in Ukraine, in Washington , Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

However, most of the races that political forecasters say are leaning states or restless states are in seats held by Democrats. Democrats aren’t helped by President Joe Biden, whose Jobs approval ratings have plunged to one of the lowest levels of his presidency, around 40%, according to an NBC News poll released March 27.

Other surveys find that Americans continue to have high levels of anxiety during a 40-year rise in inflation and record spikes in gasoline prices.
Why candidates are important to McConnell

McConnell’s optimism has a catch, however.

In the past, he has seen possible majorities elude him when Republicans were favored.

The GOP leader specifically recalled failed attempts to grab a Senate majority in 2010 and 2012, and cites primaries that brought up poor contenders, like Christie O’Donnell in Delaware; Richard Mourdock in Indiana; Sharron Angle in Nevada and the late Todd Akin in Missouri.

Learn more: The field for Kentucky’s primary election is set. Here are 5 takeaways and races to watch

These and other losses kept control of the Senate out of McConnell’s hands until 2014, with major consequences during former President Barack Obama’s last term and during the Trump presidency.

“So we have to make sure we’re nominating eligible candidates,” McConnell said. “And so far, I think in our primaries, it looks like that will be the case.”

That’s why McConnell and his allies have made aggressive efforts to woo popular Republican governors, such as Larry Hogan of Maryland and Doug Ducey of Arizona, to run for their respective Senate races.

These potential candidates, however, rejected McConnell’s advances.
Who has the best 2022 card?

Of the 35 Senate seats up for re-election this year, Republicans hold 21, but organizations planning the election stress that the most competitive races are in the hands of Democrats.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the UVa Center for Politics, for example, classifies four Senate contests as sweepstakes. Of those, three — Arizona, Georgia and Nevada — are currently owned by Democrats.

Over at The Cook Political Report, there are five Senate races for this fall, and the report ranks the same three Democratic seats as competitive.

Georgia 2022: Georgia redistricting forces voters to make tough choice between two Democratic incumbents

But the Republicans have retreats that put them on defense in the important battlegrounds of Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., leaves after a Senate Republican luncheon at the United States Capitol on July 28, 2021 in Washington, DC His retirement leaves a key Senate seat open halfway through this year.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., leaves after a Senate Republican luncheon at the United States Capitol on July 28, 2021 in Washington, DC His retirement leaves a key Senate seat open halfway through this year.

Democrats in particular have found themselves battling negative perceptions of the economy.

A poll released by Navigator Research in February, for example, found that 37% of Americans believe more jobs have been lost since 2021.

Yet under Biden, unemployment in the United States fell from 6.4% when he took office to 3.6% this month after adding 431,000 more jobs in March.

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Even McConnell recognizes there is an opportunity for Democrats to seize the narrative and hold the Senate.

“What I mean by that is that the Senate, unlike the House, each of our races going on this year are states that could go either way in November,” McConnell said. “In other words, they are competitive in the general election.”
McConnell: Don’t talk nonsense

Earlier this year, McConnell told reporters he would run in the primaries if it looked like Republicans were “about to nominate someone who is not eligible.”

The Senate Leadership Fund, a McConnell-aligned super PAC, has the resources to do just that. He bragged earlier this year that he raised $94.4 million with his allied nonprofit advocacy group One Nation during last year’s fundraiser.

McConnell told USA TODAY that what makes someone a “winnable” candidate in November depends on each state and polling data.

“It depends on not doing and not saying stupid things that disqualify you,” McConnell said. “And frankly, I don’t think it has to do with President Trump. I personally don’t care if they’re Trump supporters or Trump opponents.”

Much has been written, however, about the McConnell-Trump rift leading up to the 2022 contests. The pair have not been on good terms since the Kentucky Republican publicly accused the former president of inciting the insurrection of the January 6 at the US Capitol.

Former President Donald Trump and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell

Since then, Trump has repeatedly called for McConnell to be replaced as GOP leader in the Senate and routinely derided him as the “old crow” in public statements.

Mid-term elections 2022:The most interesting Senate races to watch, from Georgia to Pennsylvania and Florida

McConnell tried to avoid taking direct jabs at Trump – although his campaign’s Twitter account changed his profile picture to a bottle of Old Crow joking whiskey.

On the political front, however, the two were or remain at odds in a handful of GOP contests, such as in Alaska, where Trump-backed nominee Kelly Tshibaka is challenging incumbent Lisa Murkowski.

“As the next U.S. Senator from Alaska, I will not be supporting Mitch McConnell as leader,” Tshibaka said in a tweet last December, adding that the GOP leader has “repeatedly bailed out Joe Biden, offering votes to the Senate”.

McConnell’s super PAC threw its support behind Murkowski, who voted to convict Trump of the Jan. 6 impeachment charges. But Alaska is considered a safe Republican Senate seat in 2022, which most forecasters say Democrats have no chance of winning.

Speculation about the lingering animosity between McConnell and Trump also appears to be fading, as Trump-aligned suitors have either faced withered controversies or the two sides have seemingly reconciled.

Both men, for example, support former NFL star Herschel Walker in his bid to be Georgia’s next senator.

“Thank you, Chief McConnell, for your support,” Walker said in a tweet last October. “As I’ve said all along, I’m focused on bringing people together to win back this seat for Georgia and for America.”

Alabama, another state considered a safe GOP seat in November, saw Trump rescind his endorsement of Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, a Senate hopeful who spoke at the Jan. 6 rally.

Brooks had proudly promised he would help “fire McConnell” as majority leader if elected, and released a statement blaming the GOP leader for Trump’s decision to withdraw his support.

McConnell laughed when asked about the fallout.

“(Brooks) is the only one who raised me,” McConnell said. “Everyone else passed on the opportunity to make me a problem in the race.”

 

Source: The Bharat Express News

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