Mitch McConnell Throws Support Behind Trump’s Presidential Bid

On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell backed Donald Trump’s campaign to reclaim the presidency, following the former president’s strong showing on Super Tuesday.

” It is abundantly clear that former President Trump has earned the requisite support of Republican voters to be our nominee for President of the United States. It should come as no surprise that, as nominee, he will have my support,” McConnell, of Kentucky, said.

The Senate minority leader stood out as the most prominent Republican figure who had not yet declared support for Trump. Despite repeated inquiries about his stance on endorsing the former president in recent months, McConnell refrained from providing a direct response, stating he would support the party’s eventual nominee.

McConnell’s endorsement came shortly after former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley suspended her presidential campaign.

In his Wednesday statement, McConnell emphasized the significant achievements he and Trump had made during his presidency, such as reshaping the federal judiciary and appointing three conservative justices to the Supreme Court.

“I look forward to the opportunity of switching from playing defense against the terrible policies the Biden administration has pursued to a sustained offense geared towards making a real difference in improving the lives of the American people,” he said.

McConnell and Trump have had a strained relationship for some time, which became even more tense following the January 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol. Despite voting to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial tied to the Capitol riot, McConnell delivered a speech directly attributing responsibility for the attack to Trump. This led to a period of at least three years during which the two men did not communicate.

“There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it,” McConnell said on the Senate floor after Trump was acquitted in the Senate impeachment trial. “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”

McConnell has consistently diverged from Trump and his followers in publicly supporting further assistance to Ukraine. Additionally, Trump has launched racist tirades against McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who served as Transportation secretary during the Trump administration.

However, according to sources briefed by NBC News last month, aides to both Republicans have engaged in behind-the-scenes talks aiming to secure an endorsement for Trump from the Senate GOP leader.

McConnell, whose control over the Senate Republican caucus has diminished as Trump’s influence has surged, disclosed that he will relinquish his leadership position at the year’s end.

Despite previous public and private disagreements with Trump, McConnell had previously stated his commitment to supporting the Republican nominee for president, even if it turned out to be Trump.

In February 2021, a month following the Capitol attack, McConnell stated on Fox News that he would “absolutely” stand behind Trump if he were to become the Republican nominee in 2024.

Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who was the only other member of Senate GOP leadership yet to endorse the former president, issued her endorsement shortly after McConnell’s statement. “We must defeat Joe Biden and steer this country back on course. Donald Trump has my support,” she affirmed.

McConnell’s strained relationship with Trump was cited by members of the Senate GOP conference as a factor in their belief that it was fitting for him to step down as leader at the end of this year.