June 25, 2024


President Donald Trump shakes hands with Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at a Keep America Great Rally at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, November 4, 2019.

Yuri Gripas | Reuters

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed Donald Trump for president Wednesday, putting aside years of hostilities between the two top Republicans.

McConnell’s announcement cements Trump’s support among leading GOP members of Congress as he is on track to face President Joe Biden in November in a rematch of the 2020 election.

“It is abundantly clear that former President Trump has earned the requisite support of Republican voters to be our nominee for President of the United States,” McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement.

“It should come as no surprise that as nominee, he will have my support,” said McConnell, who last week announced he would step down from his leadership position in the Senate in November.

“During his Presidency, we worked together to accomplish great things for the American people including tax reform that supercharged our economy and a generational change of our federal judiciary — most importantly, the Supreme Court,” he said.

“I look forward to the opportunity of switching from playing defense against the terrible policies the Biden administration has pursued to a sustained offense geared towards making a real difference in improving the lives of the American people.”

A Trump campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

McConnell’s announcement was issued minutes after former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley suspended her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Haley, who was Trump’s last remaining major GOP primary competitor, did not endorse him in the statement announcing the suspension.

McConnell, who has been a Senate leader for 17 years, and Trump, the de facto head of the GOP, have repeatedly clashed since Trump was elected president in 2016.

But McConnell’s decision to back Trump was not unexpected.

Just after Trump’s impeachment trial on charges of inciting the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, McConnell declared on the Senate floor that there was “no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

But McConnell voted against convicting Trump of the charges, as did more than enough other Republican senators to acquit the ex-president.

Just one month after the trial, McConnell told Fox News that he would “absolutely” back Trump if he became the 2024 Republican presidential nominee.

More recently, McConnell and his allies have sparred with Trump’s supporters over efforts for the U.S. to send additional aid to Ukraine, which the Senate leader supports.

Trump has attacked McConnell with an array of nicknames, including “broken old crow,” and has lobbed racist insults at McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who served as Labor secretary in the Trump administration.

Although Trump and McConnell haven’t spoken face to face in years, aides to both men in recent months discussed an endorsement by the senator, NBC News reported in late February.

Later Wednesday, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, who chairs the Senate Republican Policy Committee, endorsed Trump.

“We must beat Joe Biden and get this country back on track. Donald Trump has my support,” Ernst tweeted.

With Ernst’s announcement, the entire Senate GOP leadership has now lined up behind Trump.

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