Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell encouraged Republicans to focus on the future, after he was asked Monday if he thinks the right playbook for Republicans in the midterms is to keep former President Donald Trump at arm’s length — similar to how Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin did in his race, which he won last week.
“I think the answer is people are in the present and want to vote on what they see going on now,” said McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky. “And I think the key to ’22 is to have a discussion with the American people about how they feel about the new administration and the Democratic Congress and what they’re doing. So I think the election will be about the future, not about the past.”
He also predicted that the midterms are “likely to be a very good election for Republicans,” after discussing GOP gains in the New Jersey and Virginia elections.
“I think the wind is going to be at our backs in both the House and Senate,” McConnell added.
The Kentucky Republican made his comments at a local event in his home state on Monday, where he also touted the final passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and said his state is going to receive $4.6 billion in assistance for hard infrastructure.
The Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill in August, with the support of 19 GOP senators including McConnell. After months of negotiating, the House passed the bill late Friday night, sending it to President Joe Biden to sign into law, which he is expected to do in the coming days.
“I was delighted that the House finally found a way to pass the infrastructure bill last week,” he said.
Asked what his response to Trump’s statement criticizing the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill — which singled him out — and whether he’s concerned about a rift continuing to grow, McConnell reiterated that he thinks “elections going forward are about the present not the past” and he’s “very optimistic” going into next year.
McConnell also said in his remarks that Kentucky is still getting funds through Democrats’ American Rescue Plan, which he opposed, and he hopes Kentuckians get “creative and go after some of it.”
“I didn’t vote for it, but there’s a heck of a lot of money through the so-called American Rescue Plan coming into Kentucky and I hope you all are creative and go after some of it,” he said.
McConnell is one of many prominent Republicans encouraging the party to look beyond Trump for the coming elections. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told some of the Republican Party’s most influential donors and bundlers Saturday that the only way for the GOP to continue building on last Tuesday’s electoral successes is to move beyond Trump’s fixation with the 2020 election results — while showing voters they will listen and fight for them with a message “that doesn’t hurt their ears.”
“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,” Christie said, addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition conference over the weekend in Las Vegas. “Every minute that we spend talking about 2020 — while we’re wasting time doing that, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are laying ruin to this country. We better focus on that and take our eyes off the rearview mirror and start looking through the windshield again.”
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