McConnell: I’ll stay in the Senate and fight the GOP ‘isolationist movement’

Mitch McConnell plans to keep fighting his party’s “isolationist movement” — even after he steps down as GOP leader.

The Kentucky Republican, who is leading the hawkish wing’s drive to fund Ukraine, said in an interview with WHAS’s Terry Meiners that continuing to push for a brawny national security approach will be a major priority over the rest of his time in the Senate. McConnell’s term ends at the end of 2026, two years after he plans to give up his leadership post, and he said he’ll serve it out in full.

“I’m particularly involved in actually fighting back against the isolationist movement in my own party. And some in the other as well. And the symbol of that lately is: Are we going to help Ukraine or not?” McConnell said. “I’ve got this sort of on my mind for the next couple years as something I’m going to focus on.”

Asked about his divergent view with fellow Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who opposes foreign aid and sending more money to Ukraine to fend off Russia, McConnell said they’ve never agreed on foreign policy and that Paul “would be the first one to say that he’s an isolationist.” The bigger problem, McConnell added, is that more of his conference is agreeing with Paul’s view; roughly half the Senate Republicans voted for the foreign aid bill and its $60 billion in Ukraine funding.

That means many of his own members are now opting against sending Ukraine money.

“What’s made it more troublesome is, it seems to me, others are heading in that direction, making arguments that are easily refuted. We’re not losing any of our troops, the Ukrainians are the ones doing the fighting,” McConnell said. “If the Russians take Ukraine, some NATO country would be next and then we will be right in the middle of it.”

The Senate’s Ukraine bill faces an uncertain path in the House, where Speaker Mike Johnson said he supports additional funding but may devise his own approach. It doesn’t help that former President Donald Trump is no cheerleader for Ukraine aid, either.

McConnell offered a somewhat tepid endorsement of Trump in March but has generally steered clear of talking about the former president. He did not deviate from that approach on Monday. Asked if he’s spoken to Trump, McConnell said: “I’ve got my hands full dealing with the Senate.”

“Biden’s got problems too. Both these candidates don’t score very well with the public. One of them’s going to win. What am I going to do? I’m going to concentrate on trying to turn my job over to the next majority leader,” McConnell said.

And, of course, make sure Ukraine doesn’t go empty-handed in its defense against Russia.