CNN  — 

Mitch McConnell doesn’t like talking about Donald Trump.

But you might think he would make an exception when it came to the former President attacking his wife.

You would be wrong.

In an exclusive interview, CNN’s Manu Raju asked the Senate Minority Leader whether the former President referring to Elaine Chao as McConnell’s “China loving wife, Coco Chow” on social media was acceptable.

“The only time I’ve responded to the President, I think, since he left office is when he gave me my favorite nickname – Old Crow – which I considered a compliment and after all, it was Henry Clay’s favorite bourbon,” McConnell said, declining to comment further on the matter.

Which is pretty remarkable – even for the famously iron-willed McConnell.

(Sidebar: Chao is a naturalized American citizen who was born in Taiwan. And not for nothing, she spent the better part of the Trump administration as his Transportation secretary.)

What’s McConnell up to? Well, as I said above, he really doesn’t want to talk about Trump.

In fact, he’s spent the past 18 months trying to avoid all talk about the former President, acting like the Republican Party is just moving on, even though it’s crystal clear that much of the base remains loyal to Trump and his election conspiracies.

The last thing McConnell wants to do a month before the midterm elections is get into a back and forth with Trump – because you can bet that Trump would respond if McConnell said anything – that would further amplify the former President.

And so, there isn’t any way – up to and including Trump making racist comments about his wife – that McConnell is going to go down the road of talking about the former President.

It’s clear that McConnell believes that the less is said about Trump, the better Republicans’ chances are of winning control of the Senate in four weeks’ time.

So he is setting what must be – even for him – a difficult example: Under no circumstances let the ever-provocative Trump goad you into a conflict. It’s what Trump wants, but it’s a bad thing for the broader Republican cause.

The Point: McConnell cares only about winning the Senate majority. Everything – and I mean everything – pales in comparison to that.