- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 22, 2017

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hit back at Steve Bannon and his anti-establishment faction on Sunday, saying the movement to run maverick congressional candidates in Republican primaries next cycle is being spearheaded by “specialists in nominating people who lose” elections.

“Well let me just say with regard to the element that you’re referring to here, they’ve been out there for a number of years,” Mr. McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday.” “They cost us five Senate seats in 2010 and 2012. We would have gotten the majority sooner but for the fact that they were able to nominate people to not win in November.”

“The kind of people that are supported by the element that you’ve just been referring to are specialists at defeating Republican candidates in November,” the Kentucky Republican said. “And that’s what this inner-party skirmish is about. Our goal is to nominate people in the primaries next year who can actually win, and the people who win will be the ones who enact the president’s agenda.”

Mr. McConnell did not mention Mr. Bannon by name, but was responding to remarks from the former White House chief strategist on Tuesday that the establishment has failed to back President Trump’s agenda.

Referring to the defeat of interim U.S. Sen. Luther Strange in the Alabama primary and the upcoming retirement of Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, Mr. Bannon said the score so far is “2-to-0.”

“This revolt is going from Alabama to Arizona,” Mr. Bannon said at an Arizona rally for Senate candidate Kelli Ward, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Jeff Flake. “The last couple of days Mitch has been saying this big thing, ‘Hey, you gotta win. Winners make policy, losers go home.’ Hey, Mitch! Big Luther Strange and little Bobby Corker are both going home. These people, Mitch. It’s 2 to 0.”

Mr. McConnell said nominating people who don’t have a chance to win in November “isn’t going to help President Trump achieve his agenda.”

“The point is, to make policy you have to win elections,” he said. “And some of these folks that you’ve been quoting, as I’ve said, are specialists in nominating people who lose.”


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