Trump Backs Rick Scott Over McConnell to Be GOP Leader as Infighting Grows

Former President Donald Trump has backed a potential challenger to Mitch McConnell as Senate GOP leader amid escalating infighting.

The ex-president phoned in to speak on a recent broadcast of former Fox News host Glenn Beck's Blaze Media news program. Trump confirmed that he supports Florida Senator Rick Scott as a potential challenger for McConnell's long-held Senate GOP leadership position. He also reiterated his distaste for McConnell, and also took aim at his wife, Elaine Chao with potentially racist remarks.

"I think Rick Scott would be much better than McConnell," Trump said. "I know McConnell well. His wife, I call her CoCo Chao. I wasn't sad to see her go. I'm not a fan of McConnell and I am a fan of Rick Scott."

The portion of the Blaze Media broadcast where Trump made the comment was shared to Twitter on Friday by left-leaning commentator and former federal prosecutor, Ron Filipkowski. As of Saturday afternoon, the clip had been viewed nearly 430,000 times.

Blame has been cast in all directions following the GOP's disappointing performance in last week's midterm elections. With races still being decided in Nevada and Georgia, the Democrats are tipped to hold their Senate majority, and potentially grow it by one seat. Republicans are still favored to retake the House, but by a much slimmer majority than expected, while Democrats still have a small chance at retaining the lower chamber.

Many on the right have pointed the finger at Trump for the party's failure, noting that a considerable number of his endorsed candidates failed. This included Dr. Mehmet Oz's Senate run in Pennsylvania against Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and all of his secretary of state endorsements in key swing states. Trump, conversely, has blamed GOP leadership, including McConnell. The former president has targeted McConnell for nearly two years, ever since the Kentucky senator spoke out against Trump's role in spurring the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

Rick Scott, whose home state of Florida was among the few places where Republicans cleaned up in the midterms, was preparing to use a "red wave" of GOP victory in the Senate to challenge McConnell as party leader, according to Politico on Thursday. Scott had reportedly even prepared a video ahead of time announcing his intentions. These plans were put on the back burner in the wake of the midterm results, however.

Newsweek reached out to Trump's office for comment.

trump rick scott senate gop leader
Above, former President Donald Trump appears with Senator Rick Scott at a 2018 campaign event. Trump on Friday endorsed Scott as a potential replacement for Mitch McConnell as Senate GOP leader. Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

A letter signed by Scott, alongside Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Mike Lee of Utah, began to circulate in Washington on Friday, calling for a delay in the election of the party's Senate leadership. The letter cited a need to get a sense of the priorities of each prospective candidate, as well as a need to wait and see who will ultimately make up their ranks. The Georgia Senate race between incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker is set to go to a runoff on December 6.

As a seven-term senator, McConnell has served as the Senate GOP leader since 2007, when he took over from departing Tennessee Senator Bill Frist. McConnell is the Senate minority leader in the current 50-50 chamber, and served as majority leader from 2015 to 2021.