Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly told Republicans during a private meeting that the party's fundraising efforts have so far been far more successful than those of former President Donald Trump, who this week called for supporters to donate to his new political action group rather than support "RINOs," or Republicans in name only.
McConnell, R-Ky., shared figures Wednesday during a weekly party lunch while responding to Trump's claims, three people briefed on the meeting told The New York Times, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
He reportedly showed data prepared on small cards, with the headline "Super PAC money raised," that he distributed to the GOP senators at the meeting. On them, it showed the totals that were raised by the Senate Republican super PAC and for the Georgia Senate races that ended up costing the party its chamber majority. That total, he said on the cards, was "$612+ million."
"In 3 cycles: nearly $1 billion," the card also said. And below that, the card listed the statistics for America First, the group formed to support Trump in 2020, and said "Trump: $148+ million."
A McConnell spokesman refused to comment to the Times, but Jason Miller, an adviser to Trump, rejected implications that Trump's actions resulted in Republicans losing the Georgia runoff races that determined control of the Senate, and instead blamed McConnell for refusing to support a larger coronavirus stimulus bill.
"A better side-by-side comparison would be the $2,000 stimulus checks that the Democrat candidates promised in Georgia versus the $600 stimulus checks that the Republicans offered, which led to us losing both seats," Miller said. "Just think, if we had done that one thing differently, Republicans would be in control of the Senate right now."
A person familiar with the McConnell action said it appears that the senator's goal was less about fighting with Trump and more about reassuring GOP senators that they will have plenty of support should he target them in their upcoming races.
McConnell's comments reportedly came after Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who heads the GOP Senate campaign committee, gave a presentation on the group's efforts. Scott is set to meet with Trump at Mar-a-Lago later this week, according to a person familiar with the plans.
Several other key Republicans have been visiting Trump at his Florida resort home and club, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
Meanwhile, Trump has "reaffirmed" the party's use of his name for fundraising pitches, after his lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to the RNC, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee about using his name and likeness to raise money.
According to a Trump adviser, the former president is sensitive to the use of his name for branding purposes after the three groups supported GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach him over the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
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