How McConnell is maneuvering to keep the Senate in GOP hands -- and navigating Trump

Even as he frequently sidesteps the latest Trump controversy, as he did Wednesday over the President’s stunning admission to journalist Bob Woodward that he intentionally played down the coronavirus, McConnell has enlisted Trump’s help in critical ways necessary to holding the Senate, including by privately persuading the President to take a step bolstering the standing of the GOP leader’s preferred candidate in Kansas, a move that helped him win a high-stakes primary last month.

And as he’s faced one of the toughest Senate maps in years, with 23 GOP seats in cycle compared to 12 for Democrats, the Kentucky Republican has tapped into his deep-pocketed donor network to pour millions to his well-funded super PAC and has sought to narrow Democrats’ online fundraising advantage by directing millions more to his vulnerable GOP colleagues. He reviews every ad that hits the airwaves in the key races on a daily basis, providing counsel and advice to his colleagues about the messaging for his party.

And with the power to set the schedule in the Senate, McConnell has taken steps to insulate his vulnerable members from the onslaught of Democratic attacks, culminating with a vote Thursday to take up a GOP economic recovery plan after the Republican leader has privately told his members in conference calls that such a vote is critical for Republican senators hoping to hang onto their seats in November.