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With Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell facing the boiling wrath of both the GOP base and former President Donald Trump, one man has come forth to defend him a little.
Speaking on Fox News’ “Hannity,” that man, Sen. Lindsey Graham, made the case this Tuesday that, despite McConnell’s perceived treachery, he deserves kudos for allegedly being “indispensable to Donald Trump’s success.”
“Mitch McConnell got a massive tax cut with a two-vote Republican majority. Mitch McConnell is as much to credit for Amy Comey Barrett as any single person. Mitch McConnell working with Donald Trump did a hell of a job,” he said.
Interestingly, this same point was trotted out earlier that evening by NBC/MSNBC political analyst Jake Sherman:
Here’s how we put in in @PunchbowlNews PM
→ Rs lost House & Senate under Trump.
→ McConnell won the Senate majority w/o Trump.
→ Without McConnell Trump would’ve had exactly 0 legislative victories.
→ Trump got three justices on the Supreme Court thanks to McConnell.
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) February 16, 2021
Graham also bashed the former president for denouncing McConnell in a public statement that he’d released earlier that morning.
“President Trump’s statement today in response to what McConnell said Saturday is very predictable. I remind everybody, Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment was ‘don’t speak ill of fellow Republicans,’” he said.
But to be fair to the South Carolina senator, he also praised Trump a little.
“He was a damn good president. He rebuilt the military, he brought order to chaos at the border, he cut our taxes, he destroyed the caliphate, put Iran in a box, and put three great Supreme Court justices on the Supreme Court and hundreds of conservative judges throughout the federal judiciary,” he said.
His only point, he continued, is that Trump and McConnell should be aiming their combined fire at President Joe Biden, not each other.
“They’re now at each other’s throats. I’m more worried about 2022 than I’ve ever been. I don’t want to eat our own. President Trump is the most consequential Republican in the party. If Mitch McConnell doesn’t understand that, he’s missing a lot,” Graham continued said.
“But my beef is not with Mitch McConnell because he has the same policy views I do. My beef is that we need to knock this off. Kevin McCarthy is the leader of the House Republicans. He’s taken a different approach to President Trump. I would advise Sen. McConnell to do that.”
This is true. In fact, Graham’s “knock this off” remark echoes the “cut that crap out” sentiment that McCarthy expressed last month as his colleagues began duking it out over Trump’s impeachment.
‘Cut that crap out’: Kevin McCarthy reportedly refs feisty behind-the-scenes call with dueling… https://t.co/mohcP8YefO
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) January 28, 2021
“I would say to Sen. McConnell, I know Trump can be a handful, but he is the most dominant figure in the Republican Party. We don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of taking back the majority without Donald Trump. If you don’t get that, you’re just not looking. He was a hell of a president on all the things that conservatives really believe in,” Graham continued.
“It was a consequential presidency. I’m sorry what happened on Jan. 6th, he’ll get his fair share of blame, but to my Republican colleagues in the Senate, let’s try to work together, realize that without President Trump, we’re never going to get back in the majority.”
The senator had some advice for Trump as well.
“As to President Trump … you own the Republican Party, my friend, but 55 of the people wanted you impeached and removed. You are the hope and future of conservatism, President Trump, but we got to make some changes to get back the White House in 2024 and have a Republican majority in the House and the Senate,” he said.
He concluded his remarks with a call for unity.
“Now at the end of the day, we’re going to hang we’re going to hang separately, or we’re going to hang together as Republicans,” he said.
The remarks came three days after McConnell first voted to acquit Trump but then delivered a stunning speech bashing the former president.
McConnell votes to acquit, but says Trump could be criminally liable: ‘Didn’t get away with anything yet’ https://t.co/cx9deFfysC pic.twitter.com/D32thFBKC7
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) February 14, 2021
The remarks likewise came hours after Trump released a scathing statement slamming McConnell and blaming him for his downgrade from majority leader to minority leader.
“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. 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, and it will only get worse,” he said.
The former president said Democrats never had it so good as they “play McConnell like a fiddle,” and he blamed the GOP senator for the “Georgia disaster” that cost the party the majority in the Senate.
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