Defeatist McConnell downplays GOP hopes of retaking Senate in 2024

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is casting a cloud of gloom over the chance of Republicans recapturing control of the upper chamber of Congress next year,  a return of the same defeatist attitude that he was harshly criticized for before the midterm debacle when the “red wave” that was predicted by many never materialized, at least partially due to his refusal to support America First candidates.

Despite a very favorable political environment in which Democrats will be forced to defend more than double the number of Senate seats than the GOP as well as a recent poll showing that a majority of Americans believe that the deeply unpopular President Joe Biden lacks the “mental sharpness” for a second term in office, the Kentucky Republican seemed to be prematurely running up the white flag in a phone interview with CNN’s Manu Raju.

(Video: CNN)

Raju joined anchor John King on Monday’s edition of “Inside Politics” to discuss McConnell’s candid remarks which were published on the outlet’s website where he expressed a lack of confidence that the GOP would be able to eke out enough seats to regain the upper hand and to serve as a bulwark against Biden’s extremist agenda if he remains in the White House despite his current woes.

“Leader McConnell telling CNN’s Manu Raju in an exclusive candid phone interview, quote, you’ll love this, ‘We do have the possibility of screwing this up and that gets back to candidate recruitment. I think that we lost Georgia, Arizona, and New Hampshire because we didn’t have competitive candidates,’” King gleefully began, obviously delighted at the octogenarian lawmaker’s Debbie Downer attitude, not exactly a morale builder with conservatives.

“This despite an obvious advantage in the upcoming election, Democrats are defending a whopping 23 seats, compared to only 11 Republican-held seats. Right here in studio with me is our chief congressional correspondent, Manu Raju. His candor is borne of experience. He thought in the last couple of cycles he would get and then had a Republican majority. And yet he is in the minority,” King continued, before breaking down an early look at next year’s Senate battlefield.

“McConnell, in the interview with you, focuses on Montana, West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where you have Democratic incumbents right now in what, in a presidential year should be tough states, right?” King asked Raju.

“Yeah, And it’s interesting to see, hear him talk about that because he’s seeing this despite all those states that we just saw. He’s really looking at a very small map to take back the majority,” Raju responded to McConnell’s doomsaying.

According to CNN’s article on Raju’s discussion with the uninspiring GOP leader:

“’No, no – I’m not,” McConnell said with a chuckle when asked if he were confident they’d take back the majority next year. ‘I just spent 10 minutes explaining to you how we could screw this up, and we’re working very hard to not let that happen. Let’s put it that way.'”


In 2020, with the Senate deadlocked and only needing to flip a couple of seats to regain control, McConnell instead snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by sitting on his hands in key races rather than going all-in on candidates supported by former President Donald J. Trump, most notably in  Georgia, New Hampshire, and Arizona.

After the midterms, Trump laid the blame for the underwhelming results directly at the feet of the minority leader.

“It’s Mitch McConnell’s fault. Spending money to defeat great Republican candidates instead of backing Blake Masters and others was a big mistake. Giving 4 Trillion Dollars to the Radical Left for the Green New Deal, not Infrastructure, was an even bigger mistake,” he wrote on Truth Social. “He blew the Midterms, and everyone despises him and his otherwise lovely wife, Coco Chow!”

(Image: Screengrab/Truth Social)

“One of the things he said is we don’t have an ideological litmus test. We’ll be involved in every general election where we have a legitimate shot of winning. The question is, in the primaries, though, does he expect to have fights with Trump over Republican nominees? Are they going to spend to go against Trump?” King asked his CNN colleague.

“What will Trump do?”Raju responded. “We don’t really have a sense if he’ll be as aggressive as he was last time, because a lot of this blew up back in his face in the last cycle. What will he do now? Steve Daines, the NRC chairman, Senate GOP campaigner, has been working behind the scenes talking to Trump, and endorsed Trump for his presidential run. Perhaps that could help things going forward, but it’s still uncertain.”

“I think it’s important to go into this cycle understanding once again how hard it is to beat the incumbents, no incumbent lost last year,” McConnell told CNN. “Having said that, if you were looking for a good map, this is a good map.”

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