Four months later, McConnell set aside precious floor time and determined votes on the bill, even though it was not on much of Washington’s radar, paving the way for its passage – and campaign ads for Gardner and Dines Achieved by cutting.
McConnell told CNN this week, “Not only was this the right thing to do from a good government standpoint, but it ensured that it should help Corey and Steve.”
The episode emphasized McConnell’s hold on the Senate and navigating one of the most contested of his long political career, finding a way to exploit being a Republican in the White House, while maintaining a majority in the hands of the GOP – – Even one that is a pencant to put GOP senators in and out of jams at times.
And as he faces one of the toughest Senate maps in years with 23 GOP seats in a cycle compared to 12 for Democrats, Kentucky Republicans to pour millions for their well-funded Super PACs Has tapped into its deep-pocketed donor network and sought to reduce Democrats’ online fundraising gains by directing millions more to its weaker GOP allies. He reviews every ad that hits the airwaves in major races on a daily basis, offering advice and advice to his colleagues about sending messages for his party.
And with the power to set the schedule in the Senate, McConnell has stepped in to protect his vulnerable members from the onslaught of Democratic attacks, ending Thursday with a vote after a Republican leader told his members privately To take up the GOP economic reform plan. The conference call states that Republican senators are expected to hang on to their seats in November.
In a Wednesday interview, McConnell stated that it was “just an extremely challenging cycle to hold onto the majority” and said that it was “a 50-50 situation”, arguing that Montana, Colorado, Arizona, Iowa, Races in North Carolina, Maine and Georgia are too far to call.
“So I describe it like a knife fight in an alleyway,” McConnell said of the fight for the Senate. “Everyone is finishing it.”
And that’s why his aides say McConnell cannot stay at odds with Trump, given the president’s popularity with the base and his habit of firing back at any perceived slight, creating politically damaging distractions Are and underline the long-held view of the GOP leader. The best currency of the party is to maintain unity.
But McConnell has found a way to use Trump’s help to his advantage: convincing him to help his favorite candidates who have a better chance of winning in November.
Kobach’s opponent in the primary, Rep. Roger Marshall, was the subject of advertisements for an attack waged by the conservative group club for Growth, which concerned Republican leaders would pave the way for Kobach’s primary victory. McConnell therefore gave Trump a suggestion: ask the club to end that advertising campaign for growth.
Sitting in the Oval Office, Trump phoned the group’s president, David Mackintosh, put him on speakerphone in the Oval Office and gave a blunt message: “Stopping Marshall”, Marshall said with knowledge of the call, according to two sources. Trump told the group’s leader that McConnell was listening in the room.
Shortly thereafter, the Club for Growth halted its massive advertising campaign, and Marshall later emerged victorious in the primary, leading Republican leaders to expect more to retain the seat in November and occupy the Senate.
Recalling that episode on Wednesday, McConnell said the incident was “an example of him being cooperative” referring to Trump.
“If you don’t nominate people who can appeal to the general election audience, you’re going to lose,” McConnell said. “And so the president has been helpful in working with me and making sure that we are nominated to the right people.”
McConnell: Senators want ‘in danger’ stimulus bill
Amidst the coronovirus epidemic, McConnell is trying to stay in coalition with the Trump administration through Washington’s response, even as he is slammed by Democrats for hitting “stagnation” for relief measures over $ 3 trillion in emergency aid. Has been. Spring.
In mid-July, McConnell indicated he was ready to go on another relief package – but after weeks of negotiations with the White House and with GOP senators, he unveiled the $ 1 trillion plan and his colleagues And a sharp push from many parts of Trump. Refused to support it. McConnell never brought that bill forward for a vote, and allowed top officials of the Trump administration to try to strike a deal with Democratic leaders, something that resulted in no results.
With millions still suffering from the economic crisis, and one of his weakest allies still eager to vote on a package, McConnell sought to unify his convention behind a new recovery bill. Along with top administration officials, McConnell convened a daily conference with his colleagues, hoping that they were behind a slimmed-down proposal.
On private calls, some Republicans have been unsure whether there should be a vote on the GOP bill that offers no chance of becoming law.
But McConnell has clarified that there should be a vote and has said he wants to return the plan to his 51 allies, something that would allow Republicans to argue that the majority Senate retracts its approach, even if It should be less. Due to democratic opposition to the plan, 60 votes were required to break a film.
On one call, McConnell told his colleagues that “there are 100% people who are in any kind of danger and want a vote and a successful vote,” according to one person on the call.
Yet Republicans argue McConnell is doing what he has to do – both for the country and to defend his party in November.
When asked about McConnell’s focus on holding the Senate, a member of the GOP leadership team, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who faces voters himself this fall, said: “I’d say it’s a 24-7 for him Operation. But it probably reduces it. ”
McConnell plans to remain as fundraising focus and leader
And he regularly has call and zoom meetings with donors to help his affiliated Senate Leadership Fund with the National Republican Sanatorial Committee, which is way ahead of previous fundraising records. For the past decade, McConnell has cultivated a large-scale donor network to help the Senate Leadership Fund raise $ 117 million in cash by the end of July, more than two-and-a-half times the same amount . In the last cycle.
Steven Law, who runs the Super PAC, said, “Without the disciplined and tireless promotion of McConnell, the leader of our efforts to hold the Senate, there would be no way we would be financially where we are.”
McConnell said the group is “a great help” in competing against Democratic outside groups, adding that he “spends a fair amount of time” which is important to those who hold the Senate. ”
In addition, McConnell, along with Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have tried to close the gap and reduce Democrats’ online funding gains. According to one advisor, only in this cycle, McConnell’s online fundraiser directed $ 3 million to his GOP colleagues.
This is the kind of funding that has helped a GOP leader win or lose a majority in a Senate Republican Conference victory, tying his tenure as the longest-serving GOP leader in history Is, that is a situation. since 2007.
Asked if he would like to remain as GOP leader for a full six years when he won his seventh term in November, McConnell said: “The leadership elections are for two years. I am definitely looking for another term. I’m running again, and we. See what the future holds. “
Ted Barrett of CNN contributed to this report.