Mick Mulvaney, a top Trump administration official, warned behind closed doors on Saturday that Republican candidates such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz could be at risk of losing and were not "likable" enough, The New York Times reported.
Mulvaney made his comments, according to the Times, at a meeting with party donors alongside Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. The Times said a person at the private event provided the paper with an audio recording of Mulvaney's remarks.
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"There's a very real possibility we will win a race for Senate in Florida and lose a race in Texas for Senate, O.K.?" Mulvaney said, according to the Times. "I don't think it's likely, but it's a possibility. How likable is a candidate? That still counts."
Cruz is facing Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke in his bid for re-election this November, and in Florida, GOP Gov. Rick Scott is mounting a challenge to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. An August NBC News/Marist poll in Texas gave Cruz a slight lead, and one in Florida from Quinnipiac University this week showed the race there was deadlocked.
Despite his remark about Cruz, Mulvaney was somewhat bullish about his party's chances overall and referred to the Democratic effort as "a movement of hate."
"They want you to think there's a blue wave when there's not," Mulvaney said.
Mulvaney's remarks on Saturday came as the 2018 elections begin to draw closer and the fight for control of Congress has begun to heat up. Both President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama have exchanged jabs on the campaign trail in recent days as they seek to boost the midterm efforts of their respective parties.
Mulvaney is both the head of Trump's Office of Management and Budget and the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Prior to joining the administration, Mulvaney was a Republican member of the House from South Carolina.