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McConnell’s Departure Won’t Be Quiet

Mitch McConnell (Credits:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is nearing the end of his tenure, but he’s not going quietly. As a GOP free agent, he’s been speaking more freely, criticizing conservative pundit Tucker Carlson and Republicans opposed to aiding Ukraine.

Despite losing influence to former President Trump, McConnell wants to preserve his influence and has helped secure aid to Ukraine. He’s also acknowledged his limited influence on party rank-and-file voters and has chosen not to die on every hill, recognizing that Trump has a strong grip on the party base.

Mitch McConnell (Credits: Axios)

McConnell’s allies, including Senate Republican Whip John Thune and Sen. John Cornyn, have endorsed Trump’s presidential bid despite past criticisms.

Meanwhile, prominent Republicans like Mike Pence, Liz Cheney, and Mitt Romney have ruled out voting for Trump. McConnell plans to stay in the Senate through 2026 and continue pushing back against isolationists in his party on national security issues.

GOP senators and strategists say McConnell’s best chance to end Trump’s political career was after January 6, when he could have attempted to convict Trump on impeachment charges.

However, it’s unclear if he could have convinced enough Republican senators to vote for conviction. McConnell hasn’t apologized for his denunciation of Trump on the Senate floor and has endorsed Trump’s presidential bid despite past criticisms.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Credits: Politico)

McConnell’s decision to support Trump has drawn criticism from anti-Trump Republicans, who accuse him of “partisan derangement syndrome.” However, McConnell views Trump as the nominee chosen by Republican voters and has chosen not to actively oppose him, recognizing that it might have helped Trump in the primary.

A longtime McConnell observer notes that McConnell is a realist who needs to coordinate with Trump to achieve a Republican Senate majority. Despite disapproving of Trump’s character and tactics, McConnell recognizes that Trump is more in tune with the party base than Senate leadership.

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