Republican senators on Thursday offered public backing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell despite an onslaught of criticism from their party’s own president.
Three influential Republican senators – Rob Portman of Ohio, Orrin Hatch of Utah, and Jeff Flake of Arizona – showed support for McConnell on a day when Trump did not rule out asking him to resign in the future.
Kevin Smith, a spokesperson for Portman, told Business Insider that the senator supports McConnell as leader and said to advance the GOP agenda all members of the party should come together.
“If we’re going to accomplish our goals on tax reform, healthcare, the opioid crisis and other issues, we have to work together,” Smith said.
Other senators took to social media Thursday to provide public cover for McConnell.
Sen. John Cornyn, the majority whip and No. 2-ranking GOP senator, tweeted his support for McConnell and issued what he said was a “call for unity” in the party.
“Passing POTUS’s legislative agenda requires a team effort,” Cornyn tweeted. “No one is more qualified than Mitch McConnell to lead Senate in that effort”
He continued: “As Benjamin Frankliin [sic] said: we can hang together or hang separately.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has served with McConnell since 1985, tweeted a picture of himself with McConnell.
“@SenateMajLdr has been the best leader we’ve had in my time in the Senate, through very tough challenges. I fully support him,” Hatch tweeted.
Sen. Jeff Flake also expressed his support for McConnell via Twitter.
“.@SenateMajLdr does a tough job well. He has my support,” the Arizona senator tweeted.
Dean Heller of Nevada also added his voice.
“I look forward to @SenateMajLdr’s leadership as we work to reduce Americans’ taxes,” tweeted Heller.
Heller is particularly noteworthy given recent political developments. After Heller came out against the Senate healthcare bill, a pro-Trump super PAC took out ads against him, which were eventually called off after McConnell took his complaints to the White House.
At the same time, a pro-McConnell super PAC announced it would back Heller wholeheartedly in his 2018 reelection bid and as a vehement pro-Trump candidate, Danny Tarkanian, announced on Tuesday that he would challenge Heller in the primary.
The reinforcement came as Trump has lobbed repeated attacks on Twitter and in press briefings at McConnell for his handling of the Senate healthcare process.
The Republican bid to repeal and replace Obamacare fell just one vote shy in late July, putting the attempts to rest for now.
One of the Republican senators who voted against McConnell’s plan and helped defeat the push, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, also sent out a supportive tweet on Thursday despite her policy differences with the leader.
“Majority Leader McConnell understands the Senate is a deliberative & diverse body. He enjoys broad support in our Caucus,” Collins said.
Trump went after McConnell on Twitter both Wednesday and Thursday, complaining about his desire to move on from healthcare.
“Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!”
Trump continued his attacks during two press availabilities at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, saying he was “disappointed in Mitch.” When asked if McConnell should step down, Trump did not rule it out.
“Well, I’ll tell you what,” Trump said. “If he doesn’t get repeal and replace done, if he doesn’t get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn’t get a very easy one to get done – infrastructure – if he doesn’t get that done, then you should ask me that question.”
Here’s a list of GOP Senators that expressd support for McConnell so far: