Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday he would "absolutely" support former President Donald Trump for president in 2024 if he was the Republican nominee in the next presidential election.
At the same time, he told Fox News, "There's a lot to happen between now and '24. I've got at least four members I think that are planning on running for president plus governors and others. There is no incumbent, should be a wide-open race and fun for you all to cover."
McConnell’s comments come despite recent tensions with Trump. While McConnell voted against impeaching Trump over charges of “inciting insurrection” at his Senate impeachment trial, he later criticized Trump and said that he was "practically and morally responsible" for his supporters' deadly attack on the Capitol.
Trump, in turn, released a statement in which he lambasted McConnell and referred to him as “a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack”.
Asked about Trump’s statement in Thursday’s interview, McConnell replied, "The Republican Party is actually in very good shape. We gained seats in the House. We elected 50 Republican senators when everybody was predicting we were going to lose the Senate. The Democrats didn’t flip a single state legislature. We flipped two, picked up a governor."
"The Republican Party had a very good day on November 3. We’re sorry we lost the White House but the Republican Party demonstrated once again this is a 50/50 nation, we are very competitive and will be competitive again in '22," he added.
McConnell dismissed allegations that there is a civil war within the GOP, saying the real disunity lies with the Democrats.
"I think if you're looking at the real civil war," McConnell said, "Look at the Democrats in the house. The progressives make it extremely difficult for Speaker Pelosi to operate given the narrow margin she has overall in the House."
The interview with McConnell took place three days before Trump is set to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), marking his first public appearance since leaving the White House.
The Axios website reported this week that Trump plans to announce during the CPAC address that he is the Republican Party's "presumptive 2024 nominee".