GOP senators defend McConnell from Trump
Supporters take to Twitter to praise the majority leader.
Senate Republicans on Friday rallied in support of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, pushing back against the onslaught of criticism from President Donald Trump.
They took to Twitter, Trump’s preferred means of communication, to praise McConnell as a gifted leader backed by his 52-member caucus and a Republican intent on delivering for the president and the party on taxes and the budget this fall.
A number of GOP lawmakers pointedly reminded Trump and other GOP critics that it was McConnell who ensured the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
“Passing POTUS’s legislative agenda requires a team effort. No one is more qualified than Mitch McConnell to lead Senate in that effort,” tweeted Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate.
Support came from moderates and conservatives alike.
“Majority Leader McConnell understands the Senate is a deliberative & diverse body. He enjoys broad support in our Caucus,” tweeted Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
“Perspective: w/out @ SenateMajLdr McConnell’s leadership, Republicans don’t have Neil Gorsuch on Supreme Court #prolife #progun,” tweeted Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.
Trump launched a barrage of criticism at McConnell over the collapse of the seven-year GOP campaign
Sen. Susan Collins Via Twitter
to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and even suggested on Thursday that the Kentucky Republican might have to rethink his future as leader if he doesn’t deliver on the president legislative lineup.
Friday, Trump retweeted headlines from “Fox & Friends” about his verbal assault on McConnell and possible fallout for GOP senators who criticize the president.
“Senators learn the hard way about the fallout from turning on Trump,” read the first headline. The second: “Trump fires new warning shot at McConnell, leaves door open on whether he should step down.”
One of the stories noted that two GOP senators who have spoken out against Trump and his policies — Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada — have now drawn primary challenges.
As on Thursday, there was no immediate response from McConnell’s office.
McConnell clearly had struck a nerve by telling an audience in his home state of Kentucky that Trump had “not been in this line of work before” and had “excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”
What followed was a “tense” phone call between the two men, according to a person familiar with the exchange, and then the presidential Twitter outburst. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about a private discussion and spoke on condition of anonymity.
In the past, Republicans have praised McConnell, who refused to even allow a hearing for Democratic President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, and kept the seat vacant for more than a year as he awaited the presidential election results.
But Trump supporters cheer his challenges to establishment figures, even in his own party, and the McConnell tussle potentially shores up the president’s base at a time when it is showing signs of weakening support. Some Trump advisers see value in creating distance from a Congress with dismal poll numbers, despite the Republican majorities.
‘Majority Leader McConnell ... enjoys broad support in our Caucus.’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (center), R-Ky., struck a nerve by telling an audience in his home state that President Donald Trump had “not been in this line of work before” and had “excessive expectations” about the process.