McConnell says he'd support Trump if he wins 2024 nomination

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives for votes on President Joe Biden's cabinet nominees, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives for votes on President Joe Biden's cabinet nominees, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – Less than a month after excoriating Donald Trump in a blistering floor speech, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that he would “absolutely” support the former president again if he secured the Republican nomination in 2024.

The Kentucky Republican told Fox News that there's still “a lot to happen between now" and the next presidential election.

“I've got at least four members that I think are planning on running for president, plus governors and others,” McConnell said. “There's no incumbent. Should be a wide open race.”

But when directly asked if he would support Trump again were he to win the nomination, McConnell responded: “The nominee of the party? Absolutely.”

McConnell's remarks underscore an awkward balancing act he sought to maintain since Trump lost the election, reflecting the reality that McConnell’s own path back to power in the Senate hinges on enthusiasm from a party base that still ardently supports Trump.

McConnell's comments precede an annual gathering of conservative activists that this year is expected to showcase Trump's vise-grip hold on the GOP base.

Trump, along with most other leading 2024 presidential prospects, is set to address the Conservative Political Action Conference, which will be held in Orlando this year because of coronavirus restrictions. McConnell, a regular at the annual conference, will not be on the program following his condemnation of Trump.

Shortly after voting to acquit Trump at his second impeachment trial, McConnell delivered a scalding denunciation of Trump from the Senate floor, calling him “morally responsible” for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In turn, an angry Trump blistered McConnell as a “dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack.”