Mitch McConnell doubles down on view that Trump is 'highly unlikely' to defeat a Democrat in 2024
When it comes to former President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been neither a full-fledged Never Trumper nor a MAGA loyalist. McConnell had a convenient but uneasy alliance with Trump during Trump’s four years in the White House, and both of them played a key role in the U.S. Supreme Court’s move to the radical right. One-third of the High Court is now comprised of socially conservative justices who were nominated by Trump and aggressively promoted by McConnell: Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett.
But following the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, there has been considerable bad blood between Trump and McConnell. Trump has repeatedly called for “loser” McConnell to be replaced as Republican leader in the U.S. Senate; McConnell, who usually avoids mentioning Trump by name, obviously believes that he shouldn’t be the GOP presidential nominee in 2024. And McConnell has mentioned Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a possibility.
Trump officially announced his 2024 campaign on Tuesday, November 15. And for McConnell, the controversy that has followed white nationalist Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes’ visit to Mar-a-Lago is yet another reminder that the GOP should look to someone other than Trump as its 2024 presidential nominee.
The 24-year-old Fuentes is the founder of the annual America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC), which he sees as a white nationalist alternative to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Despite the fact that Fuentes is an unapologetic white nationalist and a Holocaust denier, AFPAC has attracted its share of well-known MAGA Republicans — including former Rep. Steve King, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Arizona State Sen. Wendy Rogers and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona. And Fuentes’ racism hasn’t kept him from being on friendly terms with far-right pundit Michelle Malkin (who is Asian-American) and hip-hop star Kanye West, who has been drawing scathing criticism for his recent antisemitic comments.
West’s bizarre and unlikely association with Fuentes recalls white supremacist Tom Metzger, the late founder of White Aryan Resistance (WAR) and a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon, voicing his support for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan during the 1980s. WAR even sent Farrakhan a donation in 1985, and Metzger (who died in 2020) was part of a “white nationalist delegation” that attended a Farrakhan speech.
West was the one who brought Fuentes to Mar-a-Lago. And McConnell, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, November 29, called Trump out without actually mentioning him by name.
The Senate minority leader told reporters, “There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy. And anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States.”
Trump, in response, attacked McConnell during a November 29 appearance on Fox News, saying, “Mitch is a loser for our nation and for the Republican Party who would not have been reelected in Kentucky without my endorsement, which he begged me for because he was going down.”
Whether or not Republicans will give Trump the 2024 nomination remains to be seen. Far-right author Ann Coulter is very bullish on DeSantis, arguing that Trump is “so done” in the GOP and that more Republicans than not are fed up with him. But Never Trump conservative Rick Wilson, a co-founder of The Lincoln Project and former GOP strategist, is confident that Trump will receive the 2024 nomination and that he will crush DeSantis in the primary. Wilson believes that even DeSantis is no match for Trump’s “feral sense of cruelty and cunning.”
Wilson takes no pleasure in Trump’s influence on his former party; he has been one of Trump’s most scathing critics on the right and believes that Trump has been terrible for the Republican Party and terrible for the conservative movement.
McConnell, meanwhile, is in no hurry to talk about Trump and his antics. But it isn’t hard to see what the Senate minority leader thinks of Trump’s prospects as a 2024 candidate. Even without mentioning Trump by name, McConnell was, in essence, telling reporters that if Trump becomes the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominee, he will most likely lose the general election to a Democrat.
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