Fox News anchor Bret Baier did his slam best to get Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-KY) to denounce Donald Trump in a Thursday night interview, but McConnell refused to take the bait. Already under considerable fire from the former president’s supporters (and, indeed, Trump himself) for his speech blaming Trump for the Capitol riot on January 6th, McConnell struck a much more conciliatory tone in the interview.
“All right, we’re just 12 days, Senator, since your really blistering speech on the Senate floor about former President Trump,” Baier said before playing some clips from the speech.
Baier asked McConnell to expand on the sentiments he expressed on the Senate floor, but the Kentucky senator said that it’s time for the GOP to focus on “moving forward.”
“We have got a new administration. It’s a very left-wing administration. We need to make sure the American people understand that this is not what Republicans stand for,” McConnell said. “I want to say this about the president. Having chosen the progressive route, he certainly made it a lot easier for me to unify my members in opposition.”
“You’re talking about President Biden,” Baier said. “But the reason it’s relevant — and, obviously, I’m sure you read the lengthy statement from the former president, saying: ‘The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political leaders like Senator Mitch McConnell at its helm. McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality has rapidly driven him from majority leader to minority leader.’ It goes on very specifically. When you read that, what was your reaction?”
“The Republican Party is actually in very good shape,” McConnell replied. “We gained seats in the House, we elected 50 Republican senators when everybody was predicting we were going to lose the Senate. The Democrats didn’t flip a single state legislature. We flipped two, picked up a governor. The Republican Party had a very good day on November 3 … the Republican Party demonstrated once again this is a 50/50 nation. We’re very competitive. And we will be competitive again in 2022.”
Baier, not willing to back down, asked, “Do you blame the former president for losing the two Georgia Senate seats?”
Again, McConnell declined the bait: “I don’t have any further observations to make about that. We’re looking forward, dealing with the new administration, and trying to hold the Senate in 2022.”
Baier then tried a different tactic. “Is there a civil war in the GOP currently?”
“No,” McConnell said. “I think if you’re looking for a real civil war, look at the Democrats in the House, the progressives making it extremely difficult for Speaker Pelosi to operate, given the narrow margin she has overall in the House. I think the Biden administration is making it easy for us to get together, and I think we’ve unified in opposition to this new administration’s extremely progressive approach. President Biden has made it quite easy for us to get together.”
Baier then asked, “If the president was the party’s nominee, would you support him?”
“The nominee of the party?” said McConnell. “Absolutely.”
A lot of this was typical politician deflection, but it’s interesting to see McConnell try his best to play the fence here. We wonder if he knows just what an enormous mistake he made in giving that speech after the impeachment trial.