In an escalating war of words, over the future of the GOP, McConnell struck back at former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. This Sunday, McConnell charged that Bannon and his allies were nothing more than ineffective, “specialists at nominating the people who lose.”
McConnell said in an interview, “The kind of people who are supported by the element that you’ve just been referring to (the Bannon wing of the party) are specialists in defeating Republican candidates in November.”
He continued by saying, “And that’s what this inter-party skirmish is about. Our goal is to nominate people in the primaries next year who can actually win, and the people who win will be the ones who enact the president’s agenda.”
McConnell was firing back at Bannon, who had said last week at the Values Voter Summit in Washington that he was declaring a “season of war” on the GOP establishment. Some of the conservatives are frustrated with the Republicans in Congress, and blame them for their recent failures to push through Trump-backed legislations.
McConnell also said, “They’ve been out there for a number of years. They cost us five Senate seats in 2010 and 2012. We would have got the majority sooner but for the fact they were able to nominate people who could not win in November. In ’14 they were defeated everywhere, in ’16 they were defeated everywhere, and the difference is we’ve been in the majority in 2014 and 2016, two congresses in a row.”
Many of the GOP leaders and campaign committees had previously expressed concerned about the funneling funds into primaries in order to defeat conservative challengers who might actually not be able to beat the Democratic challengers in the general elections.
“Look, this is not about personalities. This is about achievement. And in order to make policy, you have to win the election,” McConnell continued saying.
Bannon last weekend went forward to headfirst take on McConnell, saying that he’s been getting requests to find “the Brutus” to his “Julius Caesar,” comparing the Senate Majority Leader to the Roman emperor who was stabbed in the back by his own trusted friend.
“Yeah, Mitch, the donors are not happy. They’ve all left ya. We’ve cut your oxygen off, Mitch, OK?” he continued.
Bannon has also backed a plethora of anti-establishment GOP candidates, most notably among them the Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore, in an effort to undermine establishment Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Despite these harsh comments on his main point of contact in the GOP-controlled Senate, President Trump appeared to back Bannon on Monday.
“I like Steve a lot. Steve is doing what Steve thinks is the right thing,” Trump said. “Some of the people that he may be looking at, I’m going to see if we talk him out of that, because frankly they’re great people.”
That same day, however, Trump had insisted that Republicans in Congress were unified.
“I’m friends with most of them. I like and respect most of them, and I think they like and respect me. The Republican Party is very, very unified,” he had said.