WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Senate Republican hopeful Mo Brooks pledged on Monday to “fire” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, days after former President Donald Trump told an interviewer that he could pull his endorsement of the Alabama congressman.
“Today, I unveil my pledge to America, to fire Mitch McConnell. If elected to the Senate, I will not vote for Mitch McConnell for leader,” Brooks said in a 90-second digital ad.
“America can’t afford a Senate leader who is a weak-kneed, debt-junkie, open-border RINO Republican, and who – worse yet – sells out America for special interest group cash,” Brooks said, using one of Trump’s favorite slurs for those in his party he disagrees with, which stands for “Republican in name only.”
Brooks also urged fellow Republican Senate candidates across the country to make the same commitment, warning that McConnell and Trump were locked in “a war for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.”
Brooks is the third Senate Republican hopeful to oppose McConnell’s leadership, following Kelly Tshibaka in Alaska and Eric Greitens in Missouri.
McConnell, an 80-year-old Kentucky Republican, is a favorite target of Trump, who has called repeatedly for his ouster as Senate party leader in a running war of words, as Republicans try to reclaim the Senate majority in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
A McConnell spokesman had no comment on the Brooks video.
Brooks is locked in a tight three-way race to replace Senate Republican Richard Shelby, who is retiring. He is running in the party’s May 24 primary against Katie Britt, a former Shelby aide, and Michael Durant, a businessman and former Army helicopter pilot.
After becoming an early front-runner last year when he won Trump’s endorsement, Brooks has slipped in the polls and trails his rivals in campaign fundraising.
Trump, who falsely claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, has also expressed disappointment since Brooks told voters that it was time to move on from 2020 and look to future elections. The former president told the Washington Examiner last week that he could change his endorsement.
A Britt campaign spokesman dismissed the Brooks video, saying in a statement: “Mo Brooks has resorted to desperate gimmicks to try and win the people of Alabama’s support.”
The Durant campaign did not respond to a query seeking comment.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone and Chizu Nomiyama)