Overall, Trump’s statement, published by the pro-Trump PAC Save America, was a lesson from revisionist history. He paid tribute to the victories of the GOP candidates last November, despite a significant number of voters who split the tickets personally rejecting him at the ballot box. He scapegoated McConnell and Georgia’s GOP officials 100% for the Senate drainage losses, which Trump helped to thoroughly confuse the GOP Senators’ message. And he called for recognition for McConnell’s own re-election, writing, “Without my approval, McConnell would have lost and badly lost.” Oh, Trump also generously tossed in a non-sequitur on McConnell’s “substantial Chinese business interests,” a blow to McConnell and his wife, Elaine Chao, who have family ties with China and who resigned after the January 6 attack on Trump’s Cabinet in Capitol.
But the ongoing impact of Trump’s first opportunity to replenish the political air with its noxious vapors was his declaration of war on all that remained of the McConnell wing of the party (honestly, not much I want to write about over the weekend).
“I will support the main competitors who are committed to making America great again, and for our American politics first,” promised Trump. In other words, the price of entry into Trump’s tent is ultimate loyalty – the surest way to lead the party’s darkest sycophants to any number of major Republican victories.
McConnell, on the other hand, was fully aware that his only criterion for candidates was the ability to win a general election. “Personally, I don’t care what kind of Republican you are or what kind of lead you are on,” McConnell told the Wall Street Journal. “What interests me is the choice.” McConnell added, “That may mean trying to influence the outcome of the primaries or not.”
However, the Senate map of 2022 practically ensures that Trump and McConnell are on a collision course. A total of 34 seats will be available in 2022, 20 of which will be held by the GOP. With key chamber control races held in peppy states like Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, McConnell will almost certainly prefer candidates other than Trump for some of these races. And even in races where they agree, Trump’s massive overcompensation for his dwindling ego guarantees that he’ll manage to mess up the message for Republican candidates – Witness Georgia.
McConnell declined to respond to Trump’s outburst, but he used his braintrust with former aides to channel his internal monologue.
“It seems like an odd choice for someone who claims they want the GOP to attack a man who was unanimously elected to bring Senate Republicans eight times in history,” said Billy Piper, a former McConnell aide, opposite the New York Times. “But we expected these tantrums when he felt threatened – just ask one of his former chiefs of staff or even his vice president.”