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New Reports Detail Trump’s Escalating Feud With McConnell — And More Chaos Across GOP Senate Primaries

WSJ: “The two men are circling each other on the map of competitive Senate races.”

National Journal: “He’s handpicking favored candidates in open primaries and exacting vengeance against those who personally crossed him.”

A series of new reports over the weekend detailed how Republicans’ long Summer of Chaos in their Senate primaries is continuing into the fall — with former President Trump aggressively calling for McConnell to be deposed as Minority Leader, GOP Senate candidates facing questions over their allegiance to Trump or McConnell, and the how the intraparty fight is threatening to “splinter the party.”

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Wall Street Journal: Trump Looks for Challenger to Depose Mitch McConnell as Split Widens
By Michael C. Bender and Lindsay Wise
September 19, 2021

Key Points:

  • Mitch McConnell’s record-long reign as Senate Republican leader has lasted long enough for former President Donald Trump.
  • Mr. Trump has spoken recently with senators and allies about trying to depose Mr. McConnell and whether any Republicans are interested in mounting a challenge, according to people familiar with the conversations.
  • The discussions risk driving a wedge deeper between the most influential figure in the Republican Party and its highest-ranking member in elected office.
  • The feud between the two men threatens to splinter the party.
  • The former president did say he wanted Senate Republicans to oust the Kentuckian from the leadership position he has held for almost 15 years.
  • “They ought to,” Mr. Trump said. “I think he’s very bad for the Republican Party.”
  • The two men are circling each other on the map of competitive Senate races.
  • Mr. Trump, meanwhile, has swiftly endorsed candidates in several races before the 2022 midterms, challenging Mr. McConnell and his team.
  • The main disagreement has been over the style of candidate best suited to pick off seats from Democrats. Mr. Trump has leaned on personal relationships and loyalty tests for most of his endorsements.

National Journal: Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party is complete
By Josh Kraushaar
September 19, 2021

Key Points:

  • Former President Trump is slowly and surely solidifying his takeover of the Republican Party.
  • Out of office and without access to social media, Trump’s hold on the GOP is greater than ever.
  • He’s handpicking favored candidates in open primaries and exacting vengeance against those who personally crossed him. Ambitious GOP candidates are now mimicking his approach to politics. Even if it prevents the party from winning, the Trump takeover is complete.

The Hill: Trump, allies launch onslaught as midterms kick into gear
By Tal Axelrod
September 20, 2021

Key Points:

  • Former President Trump and his allies are expanding their political activities across the map, asserting their presence within the Republican Party as the 2022 midterm cycle kicks into high gear.
  • “The idea that there was going to be a whole election cycle that Donald Trump wasn’t going to try to put himself at the center of, it just wasn’t a reasonable expectation,” said GOP strategist Scott Jennings. “I think the operating principle for him is, ‘I’m going to be at the center of this.’ And what he’s doing right now is trying to be the head of the Republican Party.”
  • Other Republicans say… his sprawling presence could also energize Democrats in 2022 and alienate suburban voters who made the difference in President Biden’s 2020 win.

CNN: Donald Trump’s main goal? Kill off the Republican establishment.
By Chris Cillizza
September 20, 2021

Key Points:

  • The latest example of Trump’s attempted purge of the establishment came via reporting Sunday in the Wall Street Journal in regard to Trump’s search for a challenger to knock Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from his leadership job.
  • Trump has been vocal, for months, in opposition to McConnell.
  • “I have quietly said for years that Mitch McConnell is the most overrated man in politics—now I don’t have to be quiet anymore,” Trump said in a statement in early August.
  • A month earlier, Trump said this: “Under the weak leadership of Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans continue to lose. He lost Arizona, he lost Georgia, he ignored Election Fraud and he doesn’t fight.”
  • Time and time again in recent months, Trump saves his most stinging vitriol for members of his own party.

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ICYMI: Trump endorsements jolt GOP races [POLITICO]

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