Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed efforts by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon to unseat Republican incumbents in the 2018 midterm elections, noting the failures of far-right candidates over the years.
During a press conference in the White House Rose Garden on Monday, McConnell, alongside President Donald Trump, addressed reports of Bannon’s attempt to push more populist and controversial candidates to unseat Republican senators.
“The goal here is to win elections in November. Back in 2010 and 2012, we nominated several candidates: Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Todd Akin, Richard Murdock,” McConnell said. “They’re not in the Senate and the reason for that was they were not able to appeal to a broader electorate in the general election.”
“My goal as the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate is to keep us in the majority,” McConnell added. “The way you do that is not complicated — you have to nominate people who can actually win because winners make policy and losers go home. We changed the business model in 2014, we nominated people who could win everywhere, we took the majority in the Senate, we had one skirmish in 2016, we kept the majority in the Senate.”
Bannon has been rumoured to have been pushing obscure candidates to challenge members of the GOP leadership. Blackwater founder Erik Prince in Wyoming and Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel are reported contenders for Senate seats. But McConnell is sticking with what he believes is a winning formula.
“Our operating 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.”
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