For the past week, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has been on a tirade against the judge who is presiding over the fraud lawsuit against his Trump University. Even after it was revealed that Judge Gonzalo Curiel was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants who had become U.S. citizens, Trump has continued to insist that the judge cannot be impartial because of his “Mexican heritage.” Now GOP leaders, concerned that the reality-tv-star-who-would-be-president is destroying the party’s chance to draw any Hispanic votes at all, are trying desperately to convince Trump to shut the hell up.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on Meet the Press on June 5, where he told host Chuck Todd that he “couldn’t disagree more” with Trump’s comments about Judge Curiel. But before he said that, McConnell indicated why he breaks with his party’s presumptive nominee on the subject, and his reasons seem to be more about politics than about decency.
I am concerned about the Hispanic vote. America’s changing. When Ronald Reagan was elected, 84 percent of the American electorate was white. This November, 70 percent will be. I think it’s a big mistake for our party to write off Latino-Americans. They’re an important part of our country, and soon to be, if not already, the largest minority group in the country.
Todd pressed the Kentucky senator on whether Trump’s remarks about Curiel were racist. He asks McConnell no less than three times, and each time McConnell deflects, repeating his line that he “couldn’t disagree more” with The Donald. Todd reads a quote from conservative commentator Erick Erickson, who did not hesitate to call out Trump when he wrote,
The attacks are racist. To claim someone is unable to objectively and professionally perform his job because of his race is racism. And damn the GOP for its unwillingness to speak up on this. [T]he party of Lincoln intends to circle the wagons around a racist.
But McConnell still would not budge from his talking point. Of course, for McConnell to say that yes, he thinks that Trump’s attacks on Curiel are racist would be a stake in the heart of Republican chances to win the White House, and the senator admits as much. He says,
I think the party of Lincoln wants to win the White House. And the right-of-center world needs to respect the fact that the primary voters have spoken. Donald Trump has won the nomination the old fashioned way, he got more votes than anybody else. Is he the perfect candidate for a lot of us? He isn’t.
Read between the lines of what McConnell said. It can be boiled down to something like this: Like it or not, Trump will be the GOP nominee. He’s a racist, but as one of the party’s leaders, I don’t dare say so. The Republican primary voters have spoken, and they say that they want this man of questionable character and judgement to be their candidate for president. So be it.
Here are Mitch McConnell’s comments, via NBC News:
Featured image via NBC News screen capture