McConnell Calls Out Trump on Midterms, Vows Changes

Senate minority leader promises to get behind 'quality candidates' for 2024, calls ex-president 'diminished'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2022 2:58 PM CST
McConnell Blames 'Diminished' Trump for Midterm Fails
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.   (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades, File)

Donald Trump was panned by pundits after the midterms, with one even calling him the "biggest loser" of the November elections after many of the candidates he endorsed struggled, fending off the red wave that Republicans had hoped for. Now, one of his party's biggest congressional names is saying basically the same. "Here's what I think has changed: I think the former president's political clout has diminished," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told NBC News in an interview released Friday. McConnell called GOP performance in some states like Arizona, Georgia, and New Hampshire "fatal" and blamed Trump for spooking independent voters and Republicans who were on the fence.

"We lost support that we needed among independents and moderate Republicans, primarily related to the view they had of us as a party—largely made by the former president—that we were sort of nasty and tended toward chaos," McConnell said. Per the Hill, McConnell broached back in August what he called a "candidate quality" issue, cautioning that the GOP didn't have a lock at winning the Senate, as "candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome."

Still, with a couple of exceptions, McConnell, who's long been at odds with Trump, deferred to Trump's picks, explaining that support for Trump remained strong in most critical states, and that it would've been a waste of money and effort to try to buck that. "My conclusion was that ... we had to play with the cards that were dealt," he said. McConnell is now suggesting it's not going to be that way the next time around, vowing that he'll "actively look for quality candidates" to bolster in 2024. As for Trump's role, McConnell said: "We can do a better job with less potential interference. The former president may have other things to do." (More Mitch McConnell stories.)

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