McConnell slams Bannon as expert at 'nominating people who lose'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and others trying to unseat Republican incumbents from the right, saying they’re “specialists at nominating people who lose.”

Bannon is leading an effort to take on Republicans he sees as insufficiently strong supporters of President Trump’s agenda with primary challenges — but McConnell dismissed the push as just the latest anti-establishment campaign that results in the nomination of unelectable candidates.

“In order to make policy, you have to actually win the election. The kind of people that are supported by the element that you’ve just been referring to are specialists in defeating Republican candidates in November,” McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday” after the host played a clip of Bannon railing against him.

“That’s what this inter-party skirmish is all about. Our goal is to nominate people in the primaries next year who can actually win. And the people who win will be the ones who enact the President’s agenda,” the Kentucky Republican said.

Bannon-backed candidate Roy Moore beat out appointed Sen. Luther Strange, who had McConnell’s support, in a primary in Alabama.

But McConnell blamed the same “element” for Republican losses in 2010 and 2012, after anti-establishment candidates won in primaries.

“We would have got the majority sooner, but for the fact that they were able to nominate people who could not win in November,” he said.

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon speaks during a television interview on October 9, 2017.

The GOP leader also insisted his own personal unpopularity would not hurt Republican candidates on the ballot in next year’s midterm elections.

“I’m not going to be on the ballot in any of those states, and I don’t think the candidates who are running need to take a position on me,” he said, adding he would not encourage candidates to commit to supporting keeping him as majority leader.

“I don’t expect any candidate in America to sort of sign up on how they may vote for the majority leader of the Senate a year and a half from now,” he said.

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White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon speaks with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump arrive for their joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks walk along the colonnade ahead of a joint press conference by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (R) and Senior Counselor Steve Bannon board Air Force One at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida U.S., February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon (L) and senior aide Kellyanne Conway speak at meeting hosted by Trump with cyber security experts in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
FILE PHOTO: Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon (L) sits with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (C) and senior advisor Stephen Miller during a swearing-in ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump signs a memorandum to security services directing them to defeat the Islamic State in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. Pictured with him are White House senior advisor Steve Bannon (L-R), National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Vice President Mike Pence, Deputy National Security Advisor K. T. McFarland, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg and senior advisor Kellyanne Conway. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist for US President-elect Donald Trump, talks on the phone outside Trump Tower in New York on December 9, 2016.

(DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (R) and senior counselor Steve Bannon (L) hold meetings at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon is pictured backstage during a campaign event in Eau Claire, Wisconsin U.S. November 1, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon (R) is pictured talking to a reporter after a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. October 29, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegr's)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon holds a campaign rally the Reno-Sparks Convention Center November 5, 2016 in Reno, Nevada. With less than a week before Election Day in the United States, Trump and his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are campaigning in key battleground states that each must win to take the White House.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon (C) listens to Trump speak during his final campaign rally on Election Day in the Devos Place November 8, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trump's marathon last day of campaigning stretched past midnight and into Election Day.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon gets off the plane with US President-elect Donald Trump arrives at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Kentucky, for the start of the 'USA Thank You Tour' at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, December 1, 2016.

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon, chief strategist for Donal Trump, leaves after the motorcade of US President-elect arrived at Trump Tower on December 10, 2016 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon, (L) chief strategist for Donal Trump, exits Trump Tower on December 13, 2016 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon, senior counselor to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, arrives to attend meetings between Trump and business leaders at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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