Sen. Lankford to Newsmax: Perception of McConnell False

Sen. Lankford to Newsmax: Perception of McConnell False

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. (Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Wednesday, 16 November 2022 10:48 AM EST

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, facing a challenge for his leadership position from Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., is often regarded as not enthusiastic about his leadership position, but in fact, he is "passionate about it," Sen. James Lankford told Newsmax on Wednesday.

He added, "He's very close to the vest and that creates his own challenges on how we get the message out."

"We live in a time period where people want someone more outspoken, someone more persuasive, and so a lot of folks in the base look at him and say, 'Hey, he just looks like he's not enthusiastic about this,'" Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who won his reelection bid last week, said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America."

"McConnell has the difficult position of trying to be able to pull together a group of eagles that is the American Republican senators and to try to get that group to be able to fly together."

That's difficult, said Lankford, as "we're all very independent."

"We all represent our own states, and it's very difficult to be able to pull that kind of group together," he said. "We don't all think alike. I don't always vote like Mitch McConnell, but we also have a very open door to be able to have very hard conversations behind the scenes."

Lankford added that he would push for McConnell to "be able to open up, to allow more engagement in the process, because I think it's going to be very important in the next two years."

Meanwhile, there is a great deal of talk about the divisions in Washington, D.C., but Lankford said that reflects what's happening in the nation's communities and workplaces and with families.

And for the past two years, America has sent an equally divided government, with the Senate being divided by 50-50, which could happen again if Republican Herschel Walker wins in the runoff election in Georgia against incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock.

"We encourage people to jump in and help Herschel on this," said Lankford. "We've got to be able to have an equally divided Senate, as we have a very closely divided House … a lot of Democrat senators are up for reelection in 2024, so that 50-50 Senate is going to be all-important over the next two years."

Lankford also commented on former President Donald Trump's election announcement, saying he's already hearing people who are excited about him but noted there are people also excited about other Republicans entering the race.

"This is why we do primaries, so we can all determine what direction we want to go as a nation," Lankford said. "There's a lot of other folks that will jump into that."


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