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Senate GOP campaign chief echoes McConnell, downplays red wave expectations

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Senate GOP campaign chief Steve Daines downplayed any expectation of a large Senate majority, echoing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s assessment to POLITICO that the objective is simply to gain control of the upper chamber.

“Fifty one,” the Montana Republican said Thursday morning when asked about his goal. “Because that gives us the majority.”

Both Daines and McConnell have struck a decidedly different tone than the last chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rick Scott (R-Fla.). Scott boldly predicted a 55-seat majority during the midterms, a prediction the GOP fell well short of.

Daines made his latest comments during a breakfast with reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

“A lot of these races are on the margin,” he said. “They’re razor-thin races. It is going to be a night that things can go either way in many of these states. But 51 is our goal, and you will not hear me from now until Nov. 5 say anything but 51.”

In an interview with POLITICO, McConnell also sought to temper hopes of a red wave and said he only saw four seats as truly in play — for now.

“You take polls around Labor Day and begin to decide where you’re going to play,” McConnell said. “But we know where we’re going to play for sure right now: Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland.”

At the breakfast, Daines said he saw plenty of other opportunities, though no spending decisions have been made.

“There’s eight states right now that are going to be competitive Senate races,” Daines said. “I think I would add Michigan, certainly, to that list.”

The other possibilities: Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada. And he even suggested New Mexico as a possible reach state.