Several Senate Republicans on Monday expressed dismay at former President Donald Trump’s insulting comments about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at a GOP donor retreat over the weekend, the latest indication of the headaches Trump is causing even some of his loyal allies.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) called the comments – which reportedly included calling McConnell a “dumb son of a b**** and a “stone cold loser” – “inappropriate and wrong,” adding, “I’ve heard Mitch McConnell called a lot of things, but never dumb.”
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), once referred to as Trump’s “Senate alter ego,” said Trump is free to oppose McConnell’s candidates in GOP primaries, but added, “I don’t think he needs to weigh in on McConnell… personal attacks on Mitch, I don’t think they’re warranted.”
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said he was “very disappointed” in the comments, calling for Republicans to “work together and not fight among ourselves” to “move forward and get our country back on track.”
“My grandma just told me… if you don’t have something good to say about somebody, don’t say it,” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) said.
Other GOP Senators dismissed questions about the comments:“I haven’t seen them,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), while Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), who has said he would oppose McConnell for Senate GOP leader in the future, snapped that it was a “private” event.
McConnell, asked about the comments as he walked into the Senate chamber on Monday, stayed silent.
“We’ve got enough problems without fighting within ourselves,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) told reporters. “Being a football coach, that’s what I’d always tell our players and coaches. Sometimes you get people arguing amongst ourselves, and then you bring your whole team down,” he said, adding, “We don’t need arguing between teammates.”
Trump and McConnell, who worked together on major legislation during Trump’s presidency, have been at odds since Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Trump’s venting at the retreat was reportedly focused on McConnell’s refusal to assist in those efforts.
Despite Trump’s comments about McConnell, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, awarded the ex-president its inaugural “Champion for Freedom Award.” Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the chair of the NRSC, told reporters the award wasn’t a mistake because “if you look at what he did for Cuba and Venezuela, what he did for job creation, he did a great job.”
“Not my call. They’re certainly free to do whatever they’d like to do. As you know, having voted twice to remove him from office, that would not have been my preference,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), one of Trump’s most vocal GOP critics in the Senate, told reporters of the award.