(Business Insider) – The Republican Party remains split since the turmoil of January 6, but Sen. Lindsey Graham has an idea of how to unite it: Stick with Donald Trump.
“I know Trump can be a handful, but he is the most dominant figure in the Republican Party,” the South Carolina senator told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday evening.
Graham aimed his comments directly at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who on Saturday fiercely rebuked Trump for provoking the Capitol insurrection.
Graham argued that McConnell’s view of Trump wasn’t “widely shared” by most of the party and that McConnell would be wise to realize that.
“Trump is the most consequential Republican in the party,” Graham said. If McConnell doesn’t agree, Graham added, “he’s missing a lot.”
Top Republicans have taken conflicting stances on how to lead after Trump. McConnell, for one, has distanced himself from Trump since the Capitol attack. He joined 42 Republican senators, including Graham, in voting to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial. But McConnell said over the weekend that Trump “didn’t get away with anything yet” and could face legal consequences as a private citizen.
Trump responded harshly to McConnell on Tuesday, calling the top Republican a “dour, sullen, unsmiling political hack.”
Graham said the feud had left him shaken about the future of the GOP, which hopes to flip the House and the Senate in 2022 and regain the White House in 2024. Democrats now have slim majorities in Congress.
“They’re now at each other’s throat,” Graham said. “I’m more worried about 2022 than I’ve ever been. I don’t want to eat our own.”
Graham, a major ally of Trump’s throughout his tenure, said the former president would be critical to winning elections.
“We don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of taking back the majority without Donald Trump,” he said. “If you don’t get that, you’re just not looking.”
McConnell told Politico over the weekend that his main goal was to elect Republicans, regardless of whether they’re in Trump’s camp.
“Some of them may be people the former president likes. Some of them may not be,” he said. “The only thing I care about is electability.”
Last month, when Democrats picked up two Senate seats in Georgia, Trump became the first president since 1932 to lose reelection, the House, and the Senate within his term.