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McConnell "absolutely" will back Trump if he's the 2024 GOP nominee

CBS News logo CBS News 2/26/2021 Kathryn Watson
a group of people sitting at a table using a laptop: Trump Meets With Cabinet Members, Members Of Congress On Stimulus Payments © Doug Mills / Getty Images Trump Meets With Cabinet Members, Members Of Congress On Stimulus Payments

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that he would "absolutely" support Donald Trump if he's the 2024 GOP nominee for president, two weeks after declaring former President Trump "practically and morally responsible for provoking the events" of January 6. The Kentucky Republican said he will support any Republican who wins the nomination, even if that's Mr. Trump.

"The nominee of the party? Absolutely," McConnell said on Fox News when asked if he would support Mr. Trump if he became the nominee. 

McConnell said the field is "wide open" and "at least four" Senate Republicans are eyeing a bid. 

Only two weeks ago, the top Senate Republican verbally skewered Mr. Trump for his role in the deadly January 6 assault on the Capitol, after voting to acquit Mr. Trump of inciting the insurrection.

"Let me put that to the side for one moment and reiterate something I said weeks ago: There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day," McConnell said on February 13 on the Senate floor. "The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their President. And their having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth."

Mr. Trump didn't hold back in what he thought about McConnell either, saying it was a mistake to support the Kentucky Republican in his reelection bid and calling him a "dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack."

"My only regret is that McConnell 'begged' for my strong support and endorsement before the great people of Kentucky in the 2020 election, and I gave it to him," the former president said in a statement. "He went from one point down to 20 points up, and won. How quickly he forgets. Without my endorsement, McConnell would have lost, and lost badly."

Mr. Trump is set to speak Sunday at the conservative conference CPAC, which will be his first major address since he left office on January 20. 

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