When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell met President Donald Trump for lunch, he warned the president about supporting his former chief strategist Steve Bannon.
As the leader of the Senate Republican caucus, McConnell told Trump that Bannon was “undermining the president’s agenda” by recruiting and funding candidates to challenge Senate incumbents, according to the Washington Examiner’s David Drucker.
After the lunch, Trump signaled that although he liked Bannon, he would try to negotiate with the firebrand chairman of Breitbart News to stand down on some of the primaries.
”Some of the people that he may be looking at, I’m going to see if we talk him out of that because frankly, they’re great people,” Trump he said during a press conference with McConnell at the White House Rose Garden.
McConnell said it was important to nominate “winners” to the Senate, noting that he would stand by incumbent senators in the midterms.
He specifically recalled anti-establishment Senate candidates in 2010 like Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Todd Akin, and Richard Mourdock who won their Republican primary but failed to win their general election.
But he failed to mention the anti-establishment candidates in 2010 who won, despite McConnell’s opposition — Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, Pat Toomey, and Mike Lee.
Republicans up for re-election in 2018 include Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, Dean Heller of Nevada, Ted Cruz of Texas, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Orrin Hatch of Utah, and John Barrasso of Wyoming.
Bannon has vowed to support primary challenges for all of the Republican senators up for re-election except Cruz.
Sen. Bob Corker has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2018, opening up the field for Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn to run.