Is Mitch McConnell Avoiding Donald Trump?

Those who know Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell best say he has two goals: to make the Republican Party a success and to stay in power (via The Washington Post). In order to achieve both, the senator from Kentucky appears to think that the only way forward is for the GOP to break away from its Svengali, former President Donald Trump. 

McConnell's main issue with Trump appears to be that the former President cannot move on from losing the November 2020 elections. "I do think we need to be thinking about the future and not the past," McConnell told CNN. "I think the American people are focusing on this administration, what it's doing to the country, and it's my hope the '22 election will be a referendum on the performance of the current administration, not a rehash of suggestions about what may have happened in 2020."

As it turns out, McConnell isn't the only member of the GOP who thinks Trump should be avoided if he continues to look back, instead of looking forward. Other senior members of the GOP have said the same, including onetime ally, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who has warned: "We can no longer talk about the past and the past elections — no matter where you stand on that issue, no matter where you stand, it is over" (via The Guardian).

The GOP are divided over Trump

The conflict Mitch McConnell feels about Trump and his future within the GOP appears to be reflected within the party at large. A poll conducted in September by CNN shows that most Republicans want to keep Trump at the helm of the GOP, even if not everyone wants to see him make a bid for the White House in 2024. The poll also shows that six in ten Republicans think that believing that Trump won the 2020 polls are an important part of what being a member of the GOP means to them. And while polling numbers for the Democrats don't appear to look too good at the moment, the Republicans may not be doing much better, thanks to squabbles between party moderates and Trump acolytes who sit on the right of the spectrum (via CNN). If those numbers don't improve, McConnell will have to accept the notion that he remains Senate Minority Leader.

It appears that for now, McConnell's Trump strategy involves not mentioning him — even ignoring him —  even though Trump does the opposite and references his onetime political ally rather regularly. Most recently, Trump called for McConnell to resign as leader because 19 Republicans had supported the Biden infrastructure bill (via CNN). Until the GOP are clear about what they want to do about Trump and what part he might play in their future, we're likely going to continue to see McConnell pretend his partymate and former ally is someone who cannot be named.