Republican leadership tried to convince President Trump to adopt a more professional approach in the days leading up to the Georgia runoff elections, but those requests and phone calls were ignored. And, according to the now-outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, it’s clear where the blame for dual GOP defeats lies.
As Trump’s assault on the Nov. 3 election’s integrity continued with baseless conspiracy theories about voter fraud, it was McConnell who saw the grim future for his party.
According to Politico, McConnell basically begged Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows to rein in the president because, McConnell and other senior leaders believed, the pursuit to reverse Trump’s election loss would certainly adversely affect GOP voter turnout.
National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Kevin McLaughlin also reportedly approached Meadows, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke with the president himself.
The recently rocky marriage between Trump and McConnell, for all intents and purposes, ended when McConnell finally affirmed Joe Biden had won and had become the president-elect. A phone call followed—reportedly far from friendly—and, according to Politico, that marked their final discussion before the runoffs. The subsequent Democrats’ victories in Georgia, exacerbated the blame game.
McConnell’s allies and other Republicans directly spotlighted the president’s role. Strategist and longtime McConnell aide Scott Jennings pointed to the poor turnout in Trump strongholds in Georgia. “That’s on him. He told them their votes didn’t count, and some of them listened,” Jennings said in the Politico report.
GOP strategist Alex Conant, who helped lead Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign, was more direct. “Republicans had everything going for them in this race, except Trump. If this election had been about checks and balances, then the Republicans would have won,” he said in the Politico story.