Mitch McConnell Hints His Presidential Choice Is Tied to ‘Centrist Voters’

The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the Capitol on Tuesday.

By Carl Hulse – – – –

With three of his colleagues running for president and with ties to other contenders, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, doesn’t like to say much about who he favors.

But in a recent interview, he said enough.

“Let me just say the obvious,” Mr. McConnell began. “The key to the White House and the key to the Senate majority for us lies in the purple states. New Hampshire. Pennsylvania. Ohio. Wisconsin. We have one senator in a blue state — Illinois. Nevada. Colorado. Florida and Virginia. Of the states I mentioned, the only one that does not have a Senate race is Virginia.”

“Obviously,” he continued, “I am pulling for a candidate who can appeal to the centrist voters who decide who carries these purple states and who occupies the White House.”

So that would appear to mean he is not at all enthusiastic about Donald J. Trump or about Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who has given Mr. McConnell fits in the Senate, or even about Senator Rand Paul, his colleague from Kentucky. It does seem to leave Senator Marco Rubio of Florida in the McConnell mix, along with others seen as more electable if they could get to a general election, such as Jeb Bush or Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio.

Given the landscape of the decisive Senate races, Mr. McConnell needs a strong swing-state winner. At the moment, his party seems headed in a different direction.

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