GOP sources tell CNN that former President Donald Trump is rallying his allies in the Senate with a proposal as he tries to deflect blame for Republicans’ poor midterm performance: targeting Mitch McConnell you.
Trump has faced a round of sharp criticism from within his own party for hurting Republican candidates in the midterms, but he has instead sought to mount an opposition to McConnell ahead of next week’s leadership election – despite the GOP leadership Man has locked in enough support to win another two years that would make him the longest-serving Senate party leader in U.S. history.
McConnell, however, faces fresh divisions internally as Senate Republicans grumble over the timing of next week’s leadership election and are now calling for a delay — something some GOP sources say is unlikely to happen.
The internal betrayal has sparked a new wave of fears that Republicans will be divided over their future and hurt their ability to unite ahead of the Dec. 6 runoff for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. Some Trump allies worry that his obsession with Kentucky Republicans will only weaken their campaign in Georgia, where many in the party still have fresh memories of accusing the former president of letting them in last year’s peach runoff Lost two seats and a Senate majority.
But privately, Trump is trying to turn Republican anger on McConnell.
In calls with allies, elected officials and incoming members of Congress, the former president accused McConnell of spending recklessly in states facing significant Republican resistance at the expense of candidates in a more competitive race people’s interests. He and aides singled out the Alaska Senate race, where the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund spent more than $5 million attacking a Trump-backed Republican challenger’s bid for the incumbent senator. Lisa Murkowski. The candidate, Kelly Tshibaka, appears poised to advance to the rank-choice runoff against Murkowski on Nov. 23.
An aide noted that Trump has been very critical of McConnell’s decision to cut support for Arizona Senate candidate Black Masters over the summer. Masters is currently behind incumbent senators. Mark Kelly won 80 percent of the vote by more than 100,000 votes, according to the latest data from CNN.
Trump has expressed those frustrations to nearly everyone he has spoken to since Tuesday, in the hope that this will translate into a public criticism of McConnell, the sources said.
“He’s not making a clear request, but he wants to see more Republicans hold Mitch accountable,” said another person close to Trump.
McConnell’s office declined to comment to CNN for this story.
But McConnell’s super PAC is the biggest spender of all Senate races in both parties — along with its affiliated nonprofits, spending more than $280 million in advertising. Trump’s outside groups spent a fraction of that on the Senate race.
During the Arizona game, McConnell told CNN last month that he and major Republican donor Peter Thiel had discussions about “resource allocation” as other outside groups continue to support the Masters. Additionally, McConnell’s team poured about $30 million into Ohio to support Trump-backed candidate JD Vance, who is battling Democrats in the House of Representatives. Tim Ryan but ultimately won convincingly.
The head of the Senate Leadership Fund, Steven Lowe, told CNN that the group is trying to focus on Biden and Democrats this cycle. But he said Trump’s presence on the campaign trail helped Democrats late in the cycle.
“Focusing on Joe Biden and Democrats who voted for inflationary spending and backed weak crime policies are priorities,” Law said. “And in a way, it’s a distraction, It undermines our ability to bring this argument home.”
Senate Republicans will hold a series of tense meetings next week. They are expected to meet behind closed doors next Tuesday, their first face-to-face meeting since the midterms.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who asked for a delay in the leadership election, believes that Republicans first need to discuss “why it turned out this way and what we’re going to do about it,” said one of Rubio’s advisers. Trump did not encourage Rubio to publicly request a delay, the adviser said.
“First, we need to make sure that those who want to lead us are truly committed to fighting for the priorities and values of working Americans (of all backgrounds) who have brought us great victories in states like Florida,” Rubio tweeted.
senator. Missouri Republican Josh Hawley, who opposed McConnell’s leadership campaign, also tweeted that Republicans should delay the election so as not to “rake” Herschel Walker the right to vote.
Three GOP senators — Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rick Scott of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah — sent a letter urging GOP conference members to postpone the leadership meeting scheduled for Wednesday The election underscored Senate Republicans’ frustration with the 2022 election result.
“We are all disappointed that the red wave did not materialize, and there are many reasons why it did not materialize,” the letter said. “We need to have a serious discussion in the meeting about why and what we can do to improve our chances in 2024.”
While the road to the Republican majority is narrow, Johnson and Lee are winning their re-election bids in 2022. Scott now chairs the National Republican Senate Committee, the Senate Republican campaign arm.
Senator Martha Blackburn of Tennessee “backed” Johnson’s first-place bid. 4 p.m., the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, according to her spokesperson.
“I was advised to run. I didn’t reject the idea, and then the rumors started circulating,” Johnson told CNN about a potential leadership bid. “My main goal is to have robust and structured discussions within the conference ahead of any leadership elections and to develop a more collaborative model for the conference.”
But McConnell’s allies say delaying the election without a challenge to the GOP leader will only exacerbate internal divisions.
“We need to move on,” a Senate Republican source said. “McConnell will win.”