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McConnell team in talks with Trump camp about possible endorsement

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) could be moving closer to endorsing former President Trump, a nod from an influential detractor that would serve as a powerful message for Trump.

Two sources familiar with the situation told The Hill that top lieutenants for the two GOP behemoths — Chris LaCivita, Trump’s campaign manager; and Josh Holmes, McConnell’s longtime top political hand — have held discussions in recent weeks about possibly thawing the freeze in their relationship and paving the way for McConnell to back Trump.

“We’ve reached the part of the primary where the party is coming together,” one source familiar with the discussions said.

“The absolute worst thing that can happen to this country is electing Joe Biden for four more years, and you can expect to coalesce around that point over the next nine months,” the source continued.

The New York Times was the first to report the discussions.

Talk of McConnell backing Trump comes on the heels of Trump’s win in the South Carolina primary, moving him another step closer to the GOP nomination.

Much of the Senate GOP has already gotten behind the ex-president in recent months. More than two-thirds of Senate Republicans have officially endorsed Trump, including a number of members who are allies with McConnell.

Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, officially threw his weight behind Trump over the weekend, making McConnell one of only two members of leadership not to back the president. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is the only other holdout.

In addition, all three of those considered potential successors to McConnell — Thune, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) — have endorsed Trump’s campaign.

McConnell has attempted to sidestep discussions about the 2024 campaign in public. He has said he would support the eventual Republican nominee

Trump said earlier this month that he had “heard” McConnell wanted to back him.

“I think Mitch McConnell wants to endorse me. That’s what I hear,” he said in an interview. “I have more than half of the Republicans … have already endorsed me, and the rest are coming in.”

“I don’t know if he’s going to endorse me, I just heard he wants to endorse me,” he said. “Everybody’s getting in line, they’re all getting on board.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment before press time.

A McConnell endorsement would be the culmination of a roller coaster relationship, which has been nonexistent dating to Trump’s 2020 reelection loss. The longtime Senate GOP leader laid the blame at Trump’s feet for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and the loss of two Georgia Senate seats the night before.

However, Trump and McConnell have one area where they are aligned heading into November: winning back the Senate majority. Trump has endorsed a number of top Senate candidates that McConnell and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), the head of the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, recruited and are putting their chips behind.

Daines has been privately pushing for the two GOP leaders to put their past behind them for the good of the party and behind the effort to deny President Biden a second term.

“I’m encouraging the Republican Party to unite behind President Trump. It will take all of us working together to win the Senate and defeat Joe Biden in November,” Daines said in a statement.

Brett Samuels contributed. 

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