Former president Donald Trump: “We know our America First agenda is a winner, not McConnell’s Beltway First agenda or Biden’s America Last.” Photo / APFormer US president Donald Trump has ripped into “political hack” Mitch McConnell, declaring that the Republican Party “can never again be respected or strong” with the long-time Kentucky Senator at the helm.
In a lengthy statement released by his Save America political action committee today, Trump threw down the gauntlet to the Republican establishment, vowing “where necessary and appropriate” to back primary challenges for candidates “who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First”.
“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Senator Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Trump said.
“McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill and personality, has rapidly driven him from Majority Leader to Minority Leader, and it will only get worse.”
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Trump said the Democrats and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “play McConnell like a fiddle they’ve never had it so good and they want to keep it that way”.
“We know our America First agenda is a winner, not McConnell’s Beltway First agenda or Biden’s America Last,” he said.
It comes after the Senate voted to acquit Trump in his second impeachment trial on Saturday (Sunday NZT).
McConnell, despite voting to acquit, then took to the Senate floor to unleash on Trump in a 20-minute tirade, warning that he had not “gotten away with anything yet” and may still face legal consequences over the January 6 Capitol riots.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch defender of Trump, told Fox News on Sunday that McConnell’s words would come back to haunt Republicans in 2022 campaign ads.
McConnell has attempted to use the impeachment to draw a line under the Trump era, telling Politico that he would work to support “electable” Republican candidates in 2022, even if that means backing candidates Trump does not support.
“Mitch is a dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” Trump said. “We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, compassionate leadership.”
In his statement, Trump boasted about his own electoral record while attacking the Republican senator. He said he “single-handedly” saved at least 12 Senate seats over the last two election cycles before the “Georgia disaster”, where Republicans lost two seats and control of the Senate in the January 5 run-offs.
He blamed McConnell for holding up Covid-19 stimulus checks, which “became the Democrats’ principal advertisement, and a big winner for them it was”. “McConnell then put himself, one of the most unpopular politicians in the United States, into the advertisements,” Trump said.
He claimed that “many Republicans in Georgia voted Democrat, or just didn’t vote, because of their anguish at their inept Governor, Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and the Republican Party, for not doing its job on election integrity during the 2020 presidential race”.
Donald Trump just put out a very long statement through his “Save America PAC” attacking @LeaderMcConnell.
The lede: “The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm.”
— Eli Yokley (@eyokley) February 16, 2021
“It was a complete election disaster in Georgia, and certain other swing states,” he said. “McConnell did nothing, and will never do what needs to be done in order to secure a fair and just electoral system into the future. He doesn’t have what it takes, never did, and never will.”
Trump said his “only regret” was that McConnell “begged” for his support before the 2020 election, saying without his endorsement he would have lost the Kentucky race, “and lost badly”.
“He went from one point down to 20 points up, and won,” he said. “How quickly he forgets. Now, his numbers are lower than ever before.”
Polling conducted by Morning Consult shows McConnell’s approval rating among Republican voters has dipped by 29 points to 41 per cent as the Trump base turns on the party leadership.
Trump accused McConnell of “destroying” the Republicans in the Senate and “seriously hurting” the country, while also saying he has “no credibility on China because of his family’s substantial Chinese business holdings”.
“He does nothing on this tremendous economic and military threat,” he said.
The business dealings of McConnell and his wife, former Trump administration Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, were explored by investigative reporter Peter Schweizer in his 2018 book Secret Empires.