Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell responded to Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon’s decision to go to war against the Republican establishment in the upcoming Senate Republican primaries on Monday.
“You have to nominate people who can actually win because winners make policy and losers go home,” McConnell said when asked about Bannon by reporters at the White House.
The Senate Majority Leader specifically recalled anti-establishment Senate candidates like Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Todd Akin, and Richard Mourdock who won their Republican primary but failed to win their general election against a Democrat.
McConnell praised his campaign model in 2014 that allowed the Republican Senate to seize the majority.
“Our primary approach will be to support our incumbents and in open seats to seek to help nominate people who can actually win in November,” he said. “That’s my approach. That’s the way you keep a governing majority.
McConnell made his remarks during a surprise press conference at the White House on Monday after having lunch with Trump. The Senate Majority Leader went out of his way to appear supportive of the president’s agenda.
“We have the same agenda,” McConnell said to reporters. “We’ve been friends and acquaintances for a long time. We talk frequently … frequently we talk on the weekends.”
McConnell specifically mentioned support for upcoming issues in the Senate such as tax reform and the budget.
The Senate Majority leader praised Trump’s appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court as the “single most significant thing this president has done.”
He expressed interest in getting tax reform done in 2017, but acknowledged that previous administrations took longer than expected to get important legislation done.
“We’re going to get this job done and the goal is to get it done by the end of the year,” McConnell said.
The president said that McConnell was a “friend,” despite reports that said the two were at odds.
“We have been friends for a long time. We are probably now, despite what we read, we’re probably now I think at least as far as I’m concerned closer than ever before,” he said. “The relationship is very good.”
Trump also called Bannon a friend, suggesting that he would communicate with him about upcoming Senate races.
“Steve is doing what Steve thinks is the right thing,” he said. “Some of the people that he may be looking at I’m gonna see if we talk him outta that, cause frankly, they’re great people.”