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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Fox News on Thursday that he would "absolutely" support Donald Trump if the former president is the 2024 Republican presidential nominee.

The big picture: Trump has not officially said whether he will run in 2024, but as Axios' Mike Allen reports, the former president "plans to send the message [during his CPAC speech on Sunday] that he is the Republicans' 'presumptive 2024 nominee' with a vise grip on the party's base."

What he's saying: "There's a lot to happen between now and '24. I've got four members, I think, that are planning on running for president, plus governors and others," McConnell told Fox News' Bret Baier.

  • "It should be a wide open race," he added.
  • But when asked whether he'd support Trump if he was the Republican presidential nominee, McConnell said, "absolutely."

Flashback: After voting to acquit Trump during his second impeachment trial earlier this month, McConnell condemned the former president as "practically and morally responsible for provoking the events" of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol siege.

Worth noting: Earlier this week, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) predicted Trump would win the GOP presidential nomination "in a landslide" if he decided to run again.

Go deeper: Trump to claim total control of GOP

Go deeper

Romney: Trump would win 2024 Republican nomination "in a landslide"

Photo: Brandon Bell - Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Tuesday that he believes former President Trump would win the Republican presidential nomination "in a landslide" if he decided to run again in 2024.

Why it matters: Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, has been one of the Republican Party's staunchest critics of Trump, voting to convict him in both of his impeachment trials. But even he acknowledged the vise-grip the former president has over the party's base.

GOP rift on display: McCarthy, Cheney on Trump speaking at CPAC

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) publicly contradicted one another at a press conference Wednesday over whether former President Trump should speak at the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Why it matters: The divergence between the No. 1 and No. 3 House Republicans shows the stark divide in the leadership ranks of the Republican Party in a post-Trump era.

Feb 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Cheney's take on Trump highlights GOP split about future

Kevin McCarthy and Liz Cheney on Wednesday. Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

Rep. Liz Cheney is staking her claim as a new thought leader for the GOP, seizing on her role as the Republicans' Trump critic-in-chief while the party navigates its post-MAGA future.

Why it matters: Cheney is offering the party a more traditional brand of conservatism and serving as the guinea pig for other Republicans eager to break with the former president but wary of the fallout. The emerging question is whether both party factions can win not just primaries but general elections.