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First it was Trump, now McConnell’s taking fire from Rick Scott over GOP Senate chances

Sept. 2, 2022 Updated Fri., Sept. 2, 2022 at 12:30 p.m.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) speaks during the Concordia Annual Summit at Sheraton New York on September 20, 2021 in New York City.    (Riccardo Savi/Getty Images North America/TNS)
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) speaks during the Concordia Annual Summit at Sheraton New York on September 20, 2021 in New York City.   (Riccardo Savi/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By David Catanese McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Mitch McConnell is used to getting trashed by Donald Trump.

Now, he’s taking hits from his very own Senate campaign chair, just at the moment the midterm campaign is about to turn into the homestretch.

Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, took aim at McConnell in an op-ed and a separate interview on Thursday, signaling a widening breach between the two GOP leaders.

“Sen. McConnell and I clearly have a strategic disagreement here,” Scott told Politico. “We have great candidates…I think it’s important that we’re all cheerleaders for our candidates.”

In a separate opinion piece for the conservative-leaning Washington Examiner, Scott lamented “trash-talking” the party’s candidates for Senate.

“Unfortunately, many of the very people responsible for losing the Senate last cycle are now trying to stop us from winning the majority this time by trash-talking our Republican candidates,” Scott wrote without specifically mentioning McConnell. “It’s an amazing act of cowardice, and ultimately, it’s treasonous to the conservative cause.”

The twin-barreled attack is likely a response to McConnell’s comments last month that Republicans had a better shot at recapturing control of the House than the Senate, a sentiment shared widely by political analysts and operatives.

“Senate races are just different,” McConnell said in Florence, Kentucky. “Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”

That simple line set off alarm bells within the political world that the Senate GOP leader had lost confidence in his party’s November odds.

Republican candidates in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona are trailing their Democratic opponents in most polling. With the Senate evenly split at 50-50, each seat is a majority maker.

McConnell hosted three candidates in Kentucky last week and expressed confidence that Mehmet Oz could still mount a comeback in Pennsylvania, where John Fetterman has consistently held a lead.

Next week, McConnell is hosting a fundraiser for Blake Masters, the GOP nominee in Arizona attempting to oust Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.

Just as McConnell was taking incoming from Scott, who harbors aspirations to run for the White House, he also took yet another shot from the former president who appeared with conservative host John Fredericks.

“He’s such a negative for the party,” Trump told Fredericks of McConnell. “He’s not good and we’re going to go through him and then we’ll have to do something later on…with him.”

“He raises money and he hands it out to senators and that’s how he keeps his power,” Trump continued. “He can think that if he wants but he shouldn’t say it, but he says it. The party is furious at him. We have to put up with him for a period of time but eventually he’ll be gone. He’s bad news. For him to make that statement is a disgrace.”

Traveling in Kentucky Thursday, McConnell did not immediately respond to either Scott or Trump.

But some conservatives sided with Scott, and encouraged other senators to speak up.

“Rick Scott may not be perfect, but he would be a monumental improvement over McConnell,” said Tyler Bowyer, a Republican National Committee member from Arizona.

Adam Jentleson, a Democratic operative who worked for former Senate Leader Harry Reid, tweeted that he sided with Scott.

“In today’s centralized system, the leader has tons of influence – including over who chairs the campaign committee in the first place,” Jentleson noted.

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