McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee

Source: The Hill | February 25, 2021 | Jordain Carney

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who just weeks ago excoriated former President Trump on the Senate floor, blaming him for the riot at the Capitol, on Thursday said he would back Trump if he wins the party’s 2024 presidential nomination.

“There’s a lot to happen between now and ’24. I’ve got at least four members that I think are planning on running for president. … Should be a wide open race,” McConnell said during an interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier.

Asked if he would support Trump if he wins the party’s nomination in 2024, McConnell added: “The nominee of the party? Absolutely.”

The statement represents a remarkable about-face for McConnell, who after the impeachment trial had signaled he wanted his party to turn sharply from Trump.

That move sparked criticism from other Republicans, and McConnell has been quiet about Trump in subsequent weeks. 

The remarks on Fox News are McConnell’s first to directly address Trump since the former president lashed out in a blistering statement after the GOP leader blamed him for the attack on the Capitol.

McConnell, in the floor speech, did not sound like a Republican who would again back the former president on another White House run.

He said Trump was “morally responsible” for the attack, where a pro-Trump mob breached the building in an effort to stop the counting of the Electoral College vote.

Trump fired back in a statement calling McConnell a “a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack.”

McConnell declined to talk about Trump’s criticism during his weekly press conference. After Baier played a clip of his floor speech, where he issued the Trump criticism, McConnell instead pivoted to argue that Republicans are focused on uniting against President Biden’s agenda.

“My point is what happened in the past is not something relevant now, we’re moving forward. We’ve got a new administration,” he said.

McConnell similarly declined to say if he blamed Trump for the party’s loss of two Senate seats in Georgia or if he thought the former president should speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Trump is scheduled to speak there Sunday.

“I don’t have any advice to give the former president about where he should speak or what we should say,” McConnell said.

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