“Elections are about the future. If you want to be a Republican leader in the House or the Senate, you have to have a working relationship with Donald Trump. Can Senator McConnell effectively work with the leader of the Republican party, Donald Trump? He is the most consequential Republican since Ronald Reagan. It’s his nomination if he wants it. … Can Senator McConnell effectively work with the leader of the Republican party, Donald Trump? …
“I am not going to vote for anybody for leader of the Senate as a Republican unless they can prove to me that they can advocate an ‘America First’ agenda and have a working relationship with Donald Trump because if you can’t do that you will fail.”
McConnell, on the other hand, appears to be attempting to will Trump out of existence — refusing to engage with the former president even when asked directly about him.
“I do think we need to be thinking about the future and not the past. 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.”
Notice what he didn’t say in that answer? The words “Donald Trump.” That’s been McConnell’s strategy for months now — ever since the events of January 6, 2021, and Trump’s utter refusal to take responsibility for his role in them.
What Graham is saying is that the current tension between Trump and McConnell can’t continue. And not just that, but also that the onus for fixing the relationship lies not with Trump but with McConnell. And that if McConnell wants to be Senate majority leader come 2023 (assuming Republicans take control of the chamber in November), then he needs to get right with Trump — and fast.
What is clear is that this situation is getting worse, not better. Which spells trouble for McConnell.