Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, rejected on Sunday the controversial views regarding the Russia-Ukraine war that were shared by GOP Representatives Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
Cawthorn has drawn substantial criticism this month from fellow Republicans for describing Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky as a “thug” and his government as “evil.” Similarly, Greene has faced backlash for saying the U.S. should not fund Ukraine in the war and for attending a white nationalist event in late February, where the crowd chanted in support of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
During an interview with CBS News’ Face the Nation, McConnell was asked about the views of Cawthorn and Greene. Host Margaret Brennan noted that GOP Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming has referred to the two fellow Republicans as the “Putin wing” of the party.
“Well, there’s some lonely voices out there that are in a different place. But looking at Senate Republicans I can tell you that if I had been the [Senate] Majority Leader—[I’d] put this Ukraine supplemental up by itself,” he said.
“I think virtually every one of my members would have voted for it. The vast majority of the Republican Party writ large, both in the Congress and across the country, are totally behind the Ukrainians, and urging the president to take these steps quicker to be bolder,” the top Senate Republican continued. “There may be a few lonely voices off to the side. I wouldn’t pay much attention to them.”
When the Senate voted on March 11 to pass a $13.6 billion aid package for Ukraine, 31 GOP senators voted against the legislation as it was included as part of a massive $1.5 trillion appropriations bill. Most of the Senate Republicans explained that they supported the aid to Ukraine, but were against other measures included in the large package. McConnell voted in favor of the bill.
“Forcing us to swallow the bad to get the good is concerning, unsustainable, and no way to govern over the long-term. While I strongly support providing Ukrainians desperately needed aid, I ultimately could not support the rest of this bloated spending bill for the aforementioned reasons,” Senator Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, said on his website to explain his and many other Republican lawmaker’s opposition to the package.
On Wednesday, Greene said in a Facebook Live address: “If we truly care about suffering and death on our television screens, we cannot fund more of it by sending money and weaponry to Ukraine to fight a war they cannot possibly win.”
“Remember that Zelensky is a thug,” Cawthorn said at a recent event in North Carolina. “Remember that the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil and has been pushing woke ideologies.”
As McConnell noted, Republicans largely support providing Ukraine with military and humanitarian aid, according to opinion polls. They also are strongly opposed to Putin’s internationally condemned invasion of the Eastern European nation.
Survey data collected by Pew Research Center from March 7 to 13 showed that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say that the U.S. is not doing enough to support Ukraine. While 49 percent of Republicans held this view, just 38 percent of Democrats believed the U.S. was not doing enough.