Mr Graham, who along with Mr Thune and Miss Collins is part of a small group of senators who often dine together in Washington, said that before leaving for the holidays, he reassured Mr Thune about Trumpian intervention Was.
“I told John it would be fine,” recalled Mr. Graham. “John will be fine.”
Asked if he thinks the threat of a Trump-inspired primary bothered Mr. Thune, Mr. McConnell said, “No. No, I don’t.”
But if Mr Thune climbs into the leadership of the Republican Senate, Mr Trump could still prove to be a headache.
The former president has no influence in the Senate, where 19 Republicans rallied him to support the infrastructure bill, which he does in the House. Yet Mr. Trump’s regular attacks on Mr. McConnell and anything that has an air of cooperation with President Biden are not lost on Senate Republicans.
Infrastructure Bill at a glance
Some of those whose seats are up in 2022, including Mr Thune, opposed the infrastructure bill after the former president’s relentless criticism of the bipartisan measure made it difficult for Senate leaders to support the law.
Perhaps more important is the impact of Trump’s future turnover in the Senate and the question of whether retired mainstream Republicans, such as Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, Rob Portman of Ohio and Roy Blunt of Missouri, will be replaced by Trump retainers.
“We have to sort through this in the post-Donald Trump era, which I believe is coming,” Ms. Collins said, troubling Mitch, the former president’s “leader,” that has gotten worse lately. “
If Mr Thune moved, she said, she would “really be next to me.”
Mr Collins echoed, if not explicitly, why Mr Thune should stay, with both Mr Graham and Mr Cramer saying he could eventually succeed McConnell, who will turn 80 in February. Mr Cramer said Mr Thune’s ascension would not happen “by default”, but that “it would be really good for the farm belt.”