“I think there’s probably a higher chance that the House will pass than the Senate,” McConnell said at a Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Florence, Kentucky.
“Senate races are different. They’re statewide,” he added. “The quality of the candidates has a lot to do with the outcome.”
It wasn’t just an acknowledgment of the GOP’s challenges in trying to regain control of the evenly divided chamber. It was also a shrewd way for McConnell to put former President Donald Trump’s political future on the ballot this November. And given current polls, the prospects for Trump and some of his handpicked Senate candidates in key battleground states look bleaker than some prognosticators might have predicted. Many rightly saw McConnell’s comments as a dig at Trump for his public support of several flawed Senate. candidates in the Republican primaries who are now trailing in the polls. It also explains why staunch Trump media ally Sean Hannity used his Fox News show Friday night to slam McConnell for his comments. first, Hannity criticized McConnell for not having an “agenda” and allegedly leaving Trump’s candidates to “hang out and fend for themselves.”
But then the Fox News host laid out what he believed to be the real problem with the GOP Senate leader’s remarks: “Maybe Mitch McConnell hates Donald Trump so much that he’d probably prefer to see Trump-endorsed candidates lose, because he thinks that could hurt Donald Trump. Trump?”
Bingo! Hannity finally got something right. Trump’s Senate bid is failing, and McConnell is laying the blame at the former president’s door.
And if those Senate candidates lost in swing states, it would likely hurt Trump politically as he prepares for a possible GOP presidential bid in 2024. After all, if Trump goes all out for these Senate candidates in 2022 and they are rejected in the battleground states, their influence within the party will be substantially weakened. It’s no secret that McConnell and Trump are no better. McConnell did not vote to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial for his role in inciting the January 6, 2021 attack on our Capitol. The GOP leader in the Senate, however, delivered a fiery speech on the House floor after the impeachment vote in which he declared: “Former President Trump’s actions before the riot were a shameful dereliction of duty.” . McConnell added: “There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for bringing about the events of that day.” Trump returned the love soon after when he he openly urged Senate Republicans last year to oust McConnell as GOP leader. Trump even went so far as to try to recruit Senate candidates who would support him in this effort.
For his part, McConnell is unlikely to hold out hope that all Trump-backed Senate candidates will lose. The Kentucky senator is a living, breathing political machine who understands that only if his party controls the Senate can he set the agenda in that chamber, from his legislative goals to confirmations of federal judges and Supreme Court justices.
Still, there’s no disputing that some of Trump’s handpicked Senate nominees are reeling, and it seems McConnell wants GOP voters to know who to blame if the GOP doesn’t win the Senate: Donald J. Trump .
For starters, there’s Trump-champion TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, a GOP Senate candidate in Pennsylvania. It was no secret that Oz had lived primarily in New Jersey three decades before moving to Pennsylvania in late 2020.And unsurprisingly, Oz’s Democratic opponent, John Fetterman, has made it a central issue, even releasing funny videos of famous sweaters like Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” and Steven Van Zandt, one of the stars of “The Sopranos” and part of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, promoting the message that Oz is a sweater . boy, ain’t no real Pennsylvanian. That helps explain why Oz was trailing Fetterman by 11 points in a July Fox News poll. Another famous GOP Senate candidate, Trump, argued: Herschel Walker, is facing difficulties in Georgia. The great footballer has been harassed for series of scandals, among them: falsely claiming he had worked in law enforcement, exaggerating his academic and business records, and failing to tell even his top aides about the children he fathered outside of marriage. A recent Fox News poll shows Walker trailing Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock by 4 points in a state that President Joe Biden won in 2020 by 0.3%. We see a similar story with other Trump-backed Senate candidates in key battleground states like Arizona, where Blake Masters trailed his Democratic opponent, Sen. Mark Kelly, by 8 points in a recent survey. Biden won the state by less than 1 percentage point in 2020. While some staunch Trump supporters are unlikely to care about the performance of Trump’s Senate candidates, a July New York Times poll found that only 49% of Republicans want Trump to be the party’s presidential standard-bearer in 2024. Given that many Republicans are like McConnell on this top priority is nominating a candidate who is “eligible,” the defeat of Trump-backed candidates in battleground states may diminish Trump’s prospects of being the GOP presidential nominee in 2024.
Few things would likely make McConnell happier.