Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is going to endorse Donald Trump, but during his book tour this week, the typically disciplined party leader was all over the place on his party’s presidential nominee.
In the last week, McConnell, 74, compared Trump to Barry Goldwater, instructed him to stop insulting people all the while saying the GOP is at an “all-time high.” Many times McConnell’s hot and cold feelings about Trump revealed themselves within the same short interviews.
Here are some of the most conflicting messages coming from McConnell’s effort to promote his new memoir, “The Long Game.”
Shot: Trump could be the next Goldwater
Chaser: Trump is still a better option than Hillary Clinton
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Thursday, McConnell admitted he does worry that Trump could marginalize Republicans with Latino voters in the same way Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 set Republicans back with black voters.
“I do. I do, and I think that the attacks that he’s routinely engaged in, for example, going after Susana Martinez–the Republican Governor of New Mexico, the chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, I think that was a big mistake. What he ought to be doing now is trying to unify the party,” McConnell told Tapper when asked about if he worried Trump could be the next Goldwater.
Toward the end of the interview, however, McConnell softened a bit to Trump. He said that while America had to decide between two unpopular presidential candidates, he was confident that a vote for Trump would ensure that Americans wouldn’t see “four more years just like the last eight.”
Shot: Trump should take a “more studious” approach to the election
Chaser: Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees was “excellent”
In a CBS This Morning interview Monday, McConnell stressed that he’d like to see Trump be more disciplined on the campaign trail. McConnell argued he’d like to see Trump stick to a script.
“I’d like to see a more studious approach,” McConnell said on CBS This Morning. “I think the American people would also like to see him fill in the blanks.”
But, McConnell did pivot to praising Trump’s release of potential Supreme Court nominees. Trump recently released a list of potential names after it was becoming clear the conservative legal establishment was growing worried Trump could be a wild card when it came to the courts. McConnell told CBS that the list was “excellent” and “well-thought out and reassuring.”
Shot: McConnell thinks Trump’s Muslim ban is a horrible idea
Chaser: The Republican Party is at an “all time high”
McConnell has said it before, but during his book tour, McConnell doubled down on just how bad an idea he thinks Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims is.
“It’s a very bad idea. I mean, for example, the king of Jordan, who is a great ally of ours, wouldn’t be able to come to the United States, and so that’s not something I think we ought to do,” McConnell told NPR. “Do we need to tighten restrictions on people coming into the country? I think there’s a good argument for that, but a kind of broad ban is a bad idea, and, of course, many American Muslims are great sources of information as we seek to look for domestic folks who might be engaged in trying to promote terrorist activities.”
McConnell might have real concerns about Trump’s position on excluding entire religious groups from entering the country, but McConnell told NPR in an interview that he still thinks the Republican Party was at “all time high” at the moment even as the party is grabbling to come to terms with Trump.
“I think the Republican Party is at an all-time high,” McConnell told NPR. “We don’t have the White House, but we’ve had very good years. The American people gave us a new majority in 2014. I don’t in any way think the American people rejected the Republican Party, or we’d be in a lot worse shape than we are.”
Shot: McConnell really wants Donald Trump to release those tax returns
Chaser: He doesn’t think Trump should be required to release those tax returns.
McConnell would really like to see those Trump tax returns. After all, it is a tradition.
“For the last 30 or 40 years, every candidate for president has released their tax returns, and I think Donald Trump should as well,” McConnell said Tuesday, according to Business Insider.
Trump has been resistant to calls to release them citing the fact that he is being audited by the IRS.
But in the same interview, McConnell “stopped short,” according to Business Insider of supporting a bill to force Trump to release his tax returns. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has drafted one, which would require all presidential candidates to show their tax returns to the public within 15 days of winning the nomination.