Politics & Government

McConnell: ‘I didn’t think President Trump had a chance of winning’

Donald Trump’s victory was a surprise to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump is shown here during a weekend rally in Mobile, Ala.
Donald Trump’s victory was a surprise to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump is shown here during a weekend rally in Mobile, Ala. AP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was surprised on election night: He didn’t see President-elect Donald Trump winning or the Senate staying in Republican hands.

“I honestly thought we wouldn’t hold the U.S. Senate,” the Kentucky Republican told Kentucky Educational Television’s “One to One with Bill Goodman” on Monday night. “I thought we’d come up short, and I didn’t think President Trump had a chance of winning.”

Republicans were defending 24 of the 34 Senate seats at stake last month. But it had a net loss of only two, and next year it will control 52 of the Senate’s 100 seats.

“I thought we’d come up short in the Senate. We had a lot of exposure,” McConnell said. A lot of the seats were in “very difficult states for us in presidential years.”

The Senate victories were “really something,” McConnell said, “but it never occurred to me he (Trump) might be able to win as well.”

Trump won because “there are an awful lot of people – and working class people in larger states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – who look at the Democrats these days and say they’re a party of groups,” McConnell said.

“It was a lot of feeling among just ordinary people all across the country that the current administration didn’t care about them,” he said, “and Trump was able to convey, oddly enough, a message from a billionaire who lives in Manhattan a genuine concern (to those) who feel kind of left out.”

David Lightman: 202-383-6101, @lightmandavid

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