Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is blaming former President Donald Trump for Republicans’ underwhelming performance in key midterm races, saying the party had “candidate quality” issues.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the Kentucky Republican said he had never claimed there was a “red wave,” but said there had been close races.
“We ended up having a candidate quality [issue]…” McConnell said. “Look at Arizona, look at New Hampshire and a challenging situation in Georgia as well.”
Incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock defeated Trump-backed challenger Herschel Walker in Georgia’s recent runoff election.
The win expanded the Senate Democratic majority to 51 seats.
McConnell noted that the Senate Leadership Fund, his affiliated super PAC, did intervene in two primaries in Alabama and Missouri, spending millions for those candidates.
“And, I do think, we had an opportunity to relearn one more time, you have to have quality candidates to win competitive Senate races. We went through this in 2010, 2012,” he noted, adding that his party had “unfortunately revisited that situation in 2022.”
However, McConnell – who was re-elected as Republican leader earlier this year and who has locked horns with Trump before – added that the party’s ability to control primary outcomes was limited for a specific reason.
“Our ability to control primary outcomes was quite limited in ’22 because the support of the former president proved to be very decisive in these primaries, so my view was: ‘Do the best with the cards you’re dealt,’” he said.
“Hopefully in the next cycle, we’ll have quality candidates everywhere and a better outcome,” McConnell concluded.