Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, was criticized for saying that it is his personal "obligation" to support former President Donald Trump in 2024 if the Republican Party names him the nominee for the presidential race.
During an interview with Axios national political correspondent Jonathan Swan, McConnell walked back statements condemning Trump for his "dereliction of duty" in the weeks leading up to and including the January 6 insurrection.
McConnell defended this decision, saying that it should "not be a front page headline" that he, acting in his capacity as Senate Minority Leader, would support the GOP nominee.
You can hear McConnell's remarks in the video below.
"Well, as the Republican leader of the Senate, it should not be a front page headline that I will support the Republican nominee for President... I think I have an obligation to support the nominee for my party and I will."
"That will mean that whoever the nominee is has gone out and earned the nomination."
When Swan questioned McConnell's contradictory statements, McConnell pushed back, saying that he is "not at all inconsistent" and claiming that he stands by prior statements in which he condemned Trump's actions.
After the interview, Axios noted that McConnell's statements offer a preview of "how a new GOP legislative majority would govern if they win in November, adding that he was "unapologetic about his refusal to answer several questions or clarify past statements."
McConnell's interview exposed him to significant criticism and many dismissed any suggestion that he was taking a "principled" stance in backing his party even if it nominates a man he has acknowledged tried to overturn American democracy.
They accused McConnell of valuing the GOP more than the USA.
McConnell has criticized Trump more than once and has indicated he is looking to move on to ensure Republicans regain their majority in the Senate after experiencing significant setbacks under the Trump administration.
Last year, McConnell evaded the question of whether he would “welcome” Trump’s involvement come midterm elections in 2022.
“Well, he has his own agenda,” McConnell said of Trump, before proceeding to criticize the Biden administration, saying that the upcoming midterm elections will serve as a "referendum" on how Americans feel about a "new government they narrowly elected while they continue a 50-50 Senate and a close score over in the House."
The relationship between Trump and McConnell has been largely strained since McConnell acknowledged President Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 general election even as Trump mounted a failed campaign to overturn the election results that culminated in the Capitol riot.
McConnell rebuked Trump in the days following the attack, saying that the mob of Trump supporters who attacked the United States Capitol "were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government, which they did not like."