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McConnell steps up attacks on a weakened Trump

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is stepping up his attacks on former President Trump as Trump’s support dips.

The Senate GOP leader on Tuesday blamed Trump for the “candidate quality” problem that hampered the party’s bid to recapture the Senate in 2022, marking the third time in three weeks that McConnell has directly criticized the former president after repeatedly avoiding engaging with him over the past two years. 

The stronger pushback comes as polls show Trump’s support is slipping among Republican voters, a trend that has accelerated since Trump-aligned candidates lost important races across the country in the midterm elections. 

A USA Today-Suffolk University poll published Tuesday showed that 61 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters want someone else to be the party’s nominee for president in 2024. 

The poll also showed Republican voters prefer Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) over Trump as a potential presidential candidate by a margin of 56 percent to 33 percent. 

With Trump “leaking oil,” in the words of one GOP senator, McConnell isn’t wasting any time in striking back against someone who has repeatedly called for his ouster as Senate Republican leader. 

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that Trump was a big reason why Senate GOP leaders were not able to steer Senate nominations to stronger candidates in key battleground states such as Arizona, Georgia and New Hampshire. 

He had hinted at a press conference a week after Election Day that he thought Trump was a drag on Republican efforts to win back the Senate, but he made his criticism more explicit after Republicans lost another key race, last week’s Senate runoff in Georgia. 

“We ended up having a candidate quality [issue],” he told reporters Tuesday. “Look at Arizona, look at New Hampshire and the challenging situation in Georgia as well.” 

McConnell said his affiliated super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, intervened in the Republican Senate primaries in Alabama and Missouri by investing money to defeat Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

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