Trump says McConnell 'should be replaced' as the Senate GOP leader 'ASAP' as the chamber's Republicans largely shrug

Mitch McConnell in Congress, Senate
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Congress.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • Former President Trump has so far been unsuccessful at challenging McConnell's leadership post.

  • A Politico report describes how there is little appetite among GOP senators to oust McConnell.

  • Only two major GOP Senate candidates running in 2022 have explicitly called for new leadership.

For months, former President Donald Trump has been angling to replace Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as the top Republican in the upper chamber.

After Trump's second impeachment trial for "incitement of insurrection" for his role in the January 6 riot, McConnell declined to find the president guilty, but scolded him on the Senate floor. While McConnell later said that he would support Trump if he emerged as the GOP presidential nominee in 2024, the speech changed the relationship between the two men for the worse.

Despite Trump's enormous influence among the Republican base, his efforts to pressure lawmakers to dislodge McConnell have so far failed to take off, as GOP members have continued to overwhelmingly back the veteran senator, according to a Politico report.

Months of attacks from the former president — which included calling McConnell an "Old Crow" and blasting his vote for President Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure framework — have only yielded two firm pledges from GOP candidates to oust the Kentucky Republican as the leader of the party's caucus, a post that he has held since 2007.

No GOP senator has currently gone on record opposing McConnell as Senate leader — especially as the party seeks to regain congressional majorities in 2022 — and no challengers have emerged from the ranks of the upper chamber. There is simply no appetite for such a fight, with the prospect of such a challenge eliciting shrugs, despite Trump's entreaties, according to the report.

Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who was strongly endorsed by Trump last year, told Politico that McConnell is doing "a good job" and said that voters "care more about what you do as a senator, what you bring up, what you voted against, how you fight for it."

However, Trump's criticism has only become more pronounced in recent weeks.

Shortly before Biden signed the bipartisan infrastructure bill into law, Trump once again scorched McConnell for backing the legislation and mockingly implored him to attend the signing ceremony. (McConnell previously stated that he would not be in attendance for the White House event.)

The former president also called out McConnell for supporting a deal that allowed Democrats to raise the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion earlier this week.

"How this guy can stay as Leader is beyond comprehension — this is coming not only from me, but from virtually everyone in the Republican Party," Trump said in a statement released on Wednesday. "He is a disaster and should be replaced as 'Leader' ASAP!"

Anti-McConnell sentiment has still failed to gain much traction among the GOP base, though.

Only two major Republican Senate candidates have explicitly called for new leadership: Kelly Tshibaka, who's running in a GOP primary against incumbent Lisa Murkowski in Alaska next year, and former Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri.

"You're going to see a whole lot of leaders in the Senate, like me, not support Mitch McConnell for leadership because he's anything but a leader," said Tshibaka on Steve Bannon's "War Room" podcast.

Greitens, for his part, said that Trump paved the way for "uncompromising leadership."

"I am committed to finding new leadership in the Senate when Republicans win back the majority in 2022," he said in a September statement.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota said that most people would not factor a leadership vote into their candidate choice.

"I'm sure some consultant's telling them you've got to be anti-establishment," he told Politico. "I don't think most people are going to vote for a candidate based on who they are going to vote for leader."

Read the original article on Business Insider