Well, I guess Trump is back, at least insofar as he can be without his social media megaphone. After an almost dead quiet three weeks since he’s left office, the former president decided to finally hit back today, and it wasn’t against the Democrats who failed to garner an impeachment conviction again.
Instead, he took a flamethrower to Sen. Mitch McConnell after the minority leader sought to eviscerate Trump following the Senate’s vote to acquit (see Following Acquittal, Mitch McConnell Absolutely Unloads on Donald Trump).
Here’s the full statement.
NEW: Former President Donald Trump puts out a statement blasting Leader McConnell:
“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again." pic.twitter.com/TuFL3qCqdn
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 16, 2021
Fox News provides some excerpts.
Trump, once an ally of the Kentucky Republican, left no holds barred in his rebuke of McConnell, using terms harsher than those of most Democrats.
Naming McConnell a “dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack,” Trump said that the GOP would “never again be respected or strong” with McConnell at its helm.
McConnell has said Trump bears responsibility for the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot and suggested he voted not to convict Trump on an impeachment count of inciting the riot only because he is no longer president.
He said that Democrats and Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “play McConnell like a fiddle” and blamed him for the GOP’s Senate losses in Georgia for not offering big enough stimulus checks.
“In ‘Mitch’s Senate,’ over the last two election cycles, I single-handedly saved at least 12 Senate seats, more than eight in the 2020 cycle alone—and then came the Georgia disaster, where we should have won both U.S. Senate seats, but McConnell matched the Democrat offer of $2,000 stimulus checks with $600.”
Yeah, I think he’s mad.
I completely understand the angst here. McConnell took to the Senate floor last week and essentially said that Trump was directly responsible for the riot on January 6th at the Capitol. I’d be ticked too if someone levied that kind of charge against me. As I’ve explained before, my position is that such a position sets up a standard which will simply never be evenly applied, nor can it be reasonably sustained. That some people might take a politician’s words and do something criminal in response does not dictate that the politician had intent to incite anyone. Trump did specifically say to “peacefully protest” during the speech that day. That he told them to “fight like hell” is hardly indicative either, given that dozens of politicians, including Joe Biden, have used the same or similar terminology.
With that said, I don’t really see the point in this fight if it lasts past this volley. Trump is out of office and he’s going to be nearly 80 by the time 2024 rolls around. The entire Republican political existence can’t realistically continue to revolve around one man. The same is true for those on the right who constantly defend Mitch McConnell as well, ignoring his many issues as a leader. These intra-party battles involving people that aren’t even in office or on a ballot in the next cycle only serve as fodder for the left. McConnell bears the blame here by taking the bait and starting this fight when it wasn’t necessary.
A good 2022 strategy is going to have to include a broad spectrum of candidates. An establishment flack isn’t going to win back Georgia’s Senate seat, but it’s also true a Trumpian candidate isn’t going to win New Hampshire’s seat. I’d rather be smart and strategic than take a “burn it all down” attitude that favors only Trump’s view or only McConnell’s view of what makes a good candidate. Both can be right about what is “electable” in different circumstances, and if they spend all their time trying to destroy each other, we’ll probably all lose in the end. That may not be fair, but politics rarely is. McConnell isn’t going anywhere and neither is Trump and his influence.
In the end, though, I think think the GOP has to get their eyes out over the horizon a bit if they want to regain what they’ve lost. I’d rather be arguing in favor of Ron DeSantis or Kristi Noem on this site than spending the next four years fighting about what Trump did or didn’t say. Perhaps that’s asking too much, though.