“Foolish,” is how former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-AZ) classified Donald Trump’s most recent statement that he would not to allow any Muslims into the United States.
But McCain–like many Republicans on the Hill–isn’t ready to say he’d stay home on election night if Trump were the nominee.
Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it was not enough for Republicans to condemn Trump’s position on Muslim travel, they needed to disavow Trump as a suitable nominee.
“I very rarely listen to the dictates of the White House,” McCain told Talking Points Memo. “Thank you very much for the advice though. I appreciate that.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday he still planned to support the Republican nominee for president no matter who that is.
Many Republicans on the Hill won’t say where they would stand on a Trump nomination because they are confident it won’t happen.
“He’s not going to be the nominee,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said through laughter when asked if he would cast a ballot for Trump on election day. When asked about the White House’s position, he added that he wasn’t interested in taking advice from the president’s staff on how the party should rebuff Trump.
“I think the Republicans are best to determine who the Republican nominee is,” Flake said. “We don’t need to take cues from the Democrats.”
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who faces his own re-election bid in 2016, said that he still planned to support the Republican nominee “unless something crazy happens.”
“We’ll see what happens with the nomination,” Portman said.
The Senate’s No. 2, John Cornyn (R-TX), accused the Obama administration of spending too much of its time focused on Trump in an effort to distract the American public from the administration’s record.
“The president is trying to change the subject from the lousy economy and his failed strategy to deal with ISIS. He wants to talk about anything else other than what his record his,” Cornyn said.