US Republican senators start to rally around Mitch McConnell amid barrage of attacks from Trump

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell. Photo: Alex Wong/ Getty Images.

Republican senators on Thursday offered public backing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell despite an onslaught of criticism from their party’s own president.

Three influential Republican senators — Rob Portman of Ohio, Orrin Hatch of Utah, and Jeff Flake of Arizona — showed support for McConnell on a day when Trump did not rule out asking him to resign in the future.

Kevin Smith, a spokesperson for Portman, told Business Insider that the senator supports McConnell as leader and said to advance the GOP agenda all members of the party should come together.

“If we’re going to accomplish our goals on tax reform, healthcare, the opioid crisis and other issues, we have to work together,” Smith said.

Other senators took to social media Thursday to provide public cover for McConnell.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has served with McConnell since 1985, tweeted a picture of himself with McConnell.

“@SenateMajLdr has been the best leader we’ve had in my time in the Senate, through very tough challenges. I fully support him,” Hatch tweeted.

Sen. Jeff Flake also expressed his support for McConnell via Twitter.

[email protected] does a tough job well. He has my support,” the Arizona senator tweeted.

The reinforcement came as Trump has lobbed repeated attacks on Twitter and in press briefings at McConnell for his handling of the Senate healthcare process.

The Republican bid to repeal and replace Obamacare fell just one vote shy in late July, putting the attempts to rest for now.

Trump went after McConnell on Twitter both Wednesday and Thursday, complaining about his desire to move on from healthcare.

“Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!”

Trump continued his attacks during two press availabilities at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, saying he was “disappointed in Mitch.” When asked if McConnell should step down, Trump did not rule it out.

“Well, I’ll tell you what,” Trump said. “If he doesn’t get repeal and replace done, if he doesn’t get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn’t get a very easy one to get done — infrastructure — if he doesn’t get that done, then you should ask me that question.”

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