Mitch McConnell says he would support Donald Trump if he wins the 2024 Republican nomination

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Nick Allen
·2 min read
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trump - AFP
trump - AFP

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, has vowed to back Donald Trump if he wins the party's presidential nomination in 2024.

The move cleared the path for the fractured party to potentially reunite behind a comeback attempt by the former president to recapture the White House.

Asked if he would support Mr Trump, should he win the nomination, Mr McConnell said: "The nominee of the party? Absolutely!"

However, he added that "a lot could happen" before 2024 and suggested the nomination race was "wide open".

Two weeks ago Mr McConnell excoriated Mr Trump in a speech on the Senate floor, saying he was "practically and morally responsible" for the US Capitol riot on Jan 6.

Mr McConnell had also previously indicated he wanted to "purge" Mr Trump from the party.

Mr Trump is due to re-emerge from a self-imposed political hiatus at Mar-a-Lago when he delivers his first major post-presidential speech on Sunday to the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC] in Orlando, Florida.

It was being seen as an opportunity for him to show that he is the presumptive 2024 nominee.

Mr Trump was not expected to announce his candidacy, but to present himself as considering it favourably.

That may discourage some of the host of other potential candidates from making preparations to run.

"They know they can’t compete against the former president," said one of Mr Trump's advisers.

Mr Trump has been urged by advisers not to dwell. in his speech, on unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud in 2020.

Instead, he was expected to focus on "the future" and "fighting Biden’s socialist agenda".

Mr Trump had responded to Mr McConnell's condemnation of him by calling the Republican Senate leader a "dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack."

That had raised the prospect of a civil war within the party as the two men battled for control.

But since Mr McConnell's castigation of Mr Trump polls have shown the vast majority of Republican voters still approve of the former president, and he is the overwhelming favourite for the 2024 nomination.

Following his row with Mr Trump, Mr McConnell was not scheduled to speak at CPAC.

Asked by Fox News about their war of words, Mr McConnell said: "What happened in the past is not something relevant now. We're moving forward."

He denied the party was facing a "civil war" and said it was "actually in very good shape" as it seeks to win back control of the Senate and House of Representatives in midterm elections next year.

Mr McConnell said: "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.

"Let's focus on winning the House and the Senate in '22. That will set up the next nominee for president, whoever that may be, with the best chance to be victorious."