Mitch McConnell would like everyone in the Republican Party to forget all about Donald Trump – and the last four years.
“I do think we need to be thinking about the future and not the past,” McConnell told CNN’s Manu Raju last month when asked about candidates embracing Trump. “I think the American people are focusing on this administration, what it’s doing to the country, and it’s my hope the ’22 election will be a referendum on the performance of the current administration, not a rehash of suggestions about what may have happened in 2020.”
You’ll notice that McConnell didn’t say the words “Donald Trump” at all in that quote. In fact, the Senate minority leader appears to be doing his damndest to not ever utter the name of the former President publicly these days.
The problem with that strategy? Donald Trump.
The former President simply can’t stop talking about McConnell. Trump’s latest came on the day after Thanksgiving when he did an interview with Fox Business.
“It’s not infrastructure and we had 19 Republicans voting for it,” Trump said of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law by Biden. “What a shame. But Mitch McConnell gave this. That guy should resign as the leader.”
The call for McConnell to resign comes soon after reporting emerged that Trump has been searching the Senate for a Republican willing to take on McConnell for the leader job. It also follows weeks of name-calling in which Trump referred to McConnell as an “old Crow.”
To which McConnell has said all of nothing. He has simply acted as though Trump no longer exists – even though there’s no debate that the former President remains the most popular and powerful figure within the GOP.
As The Washington Post put it in a McConnell profile earlier this month:
“At 79, safely reelected last year to a seventh term and in his 16th year as the Senate’s top Republican, McConnell is nonetheless increasingly playing the role of a conflicted and compromised booster of Trump’s interests — not a leader with his own vision.”
McConnell didn’t get to where he is by being stupid. Or weak-willed.
But, despite his commitment to forget Trump, it’s getting harder and harder to do so. When the biggest bully on the block calls for you to resign, don’t you sort of have to respond if you are McConnell?
The Point: McConnell is going to keep getting asked about Trump – and what the former President has said about him. Does he decide to respond? And, if so, when?