Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) repeatedly refused to attack former President Donald Trump during a Fox News interview on Thursday evening, despite being nudged to do so.
“All right, we’re just 12 days, Senator, since your really blistering speech on the Senate floor about former President Trump,” Baier said several minutes into the interview as he then played clips from McConnell’s post-Senate trial speech where he criticized Trump.
When Baier tried to get a response from McConnell on the speech, McConnell said that was in the past, is not “relevant now,” and that the Republican Party is focused on “moving forward.”
“We have got a new administration. It’s a very left-wing administration. We need to make sure the American people understand that this is not what Republicans stand for,” McConnell said. “I want to say this about the president. Having chosen the progressive route, he certainly made it a lot easier for me to unify my members in opposition.”
“You’re talking about President Biden,” Baier responded. “But the reason it’s relevant — and, obviously, I’m sure you read the lengthy statement from the former president, saying: ‘The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political leaders like Senator Mitch McConnell at its helm. 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.'”
“It goes on very specifically,” Baier pressed. “When you read that, what was your reaction?”
“The Republican Party is actually in very good shape,” McConnell responded. “We gained seats in the House, we elected 50 Republican senators when everybody was predicting we were going to lose the Senate. The Democrats didn’t flip a single state legislature. We flipped two, picked up a governor. The Republican Party had a very good day on November 3 … the Republican Party demonstrated once again this is a 50/50 nation. We’re very competitive. And we will be competitive again in .”
“Do you blame the former president for losing the two Georgia Senate seats?” Baier pressed.
“I don’t have any further observations to make about that,” McConnell responded. “We’re looking forward, dealing with the new administration, and trying to hold the Senate in .”
Baier continued to press McConnell on the issue of where he stands on the issue of Trump.
“Should the former president be speaking at CPAC this weekend?” Baier pressed.
“I don’t have any advice to give the former president about where he should speak or what he should say,” McConnell responded.
“Is there a civil war in the GOP currently?” Baier continued to press.
“No,” McConnell responded. “I think if you’re looking for a real civil war, look at the Democrats in the House, the progressives making it extremely difficult for Speaker Pelosi to operate, given the narrow margin she has overall in the House. I think the Biden administration is making it easy for us to get together, and I think we’ve unified in opposition to this new administration’s extremely progressive approach. President Biden has made it quite easy for us to get together.”
Again, Baier continued to press McConnell on the issue of Trump, asking, “If the president was the party’s nominee, would you support him?”
“The nominee of the party?” McConnell responded. “Absolutely.”
A few moments later, Baier again pressed, “But what would you say to Trump supporters who read the president’s statement about you and are concerned about the future of the GOP?”
“What I would say to everybody who’s inclined to support our right-of-center Republican Party, let’s focus on winning the House and the Senate in ,” McConnell responded. “That will set up the next nominee for president, whoever that may be, the best chance to be victorious.”
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