Anger mounts over Trump’s McConnell ‘death wish’ but Republicans stay quiet

Few elected officials spoke out about the former president’s threat.

Eric Garcia
Monday 03 October 2022 16:13 BST
Rick Scott refuses to defend Mitch McConnell against Trump’s threat

Republican operatives and elites criticised former president Donald Trump for saying that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a “DEATH WISH”, but many Republican elected officials have stayed silent.

The former president criticised Mr McConnell on his Truth Social account for supporting Democratic-led legislation after Mr McConnell voted for a continuing resolution to keep the government open.

“He has a DEATH WISH,” Mr Trump posted. “Must immediately seek help and advise from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!”

Mr McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao was born in Taiwan and served in the Trump administration as secretary of transportation until the January 6 riot.

Scott Jennings, a former McConnell staffer, criticised the remarks on CNN’s State of the Union.

“It’s hard to know where to start, with the assassination instructions or the blatant racism,” he said. “If you read that whole thing out loud, if were on the street and you heard someone muttering that on the street corner, you wouldn’t say ‘hm, let’s hand this person the presidency or the Republican nomination for president.’ You’d say, ‘call 911’ because this sounds like an unhinged, derranged person has gotten loose and is out on the street.”

Former Trump administration director of strategic communications and current co-host of The View Alyssa Farah Griffin criticised the remarks and said Republicans shouldn’t elevate the former president.

“Free idea: if elected Republicans don't want to have to defend crazy, racist remarks by the former President, 1st off: just don't. Period. 2nd: don't nominate him again.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial page also criticised the former president’s rhetoric. The board noted how despite being one of the biggest facilitator of Mr Trump’s agenda in Washington and helping confirm his three Supreme Court nominees, Mr Trump has long criticised Mr McConnell for not helping to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Mr McConnell criticised Mr Trump’s role in the riot, though he ultimately voted against convicting the former president.

“But the “death wish” rhetoric is ugly even by Mr. Trump’s standards and deserves to be condemned. Mr. Trump’s apologists claim he merely meant Mr. McConnell has a political death wish, but that isn’t what he wrote,” the editorial, published on Sunday, read. “It’s all too easy to imagine some fanatic taking Mr. Trump seriously and literally, and attempting to kill Mr. McConnell. Many supporters took Mr. Trump’s rhetoric about former Vice President Mike Pence all too seriously on Jan. 6.”

Still, few Repunlican elected officials denounced the former president’s rhetoric. On CNN’s State of the Union, Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, dithered when asked about it.

“I can never respond to why anyone says what they said, but here’s they way I looked at it is, I think what the president is saying is, you know, there’s been a lot of money spent over the last two years,” he said.

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