Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said Tuesday that he didn’t think presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump was being racist in attacking a federal judge’s ethnicity.
Trump has questioned U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s ability to preside over cases against Trump University due to his “Mexican heritage.” The Utah senator said in a gaggle with reporters on Capitol Hill that he thought Trump needed to “tone it down a bit” and there was no need to make “outrageous statements.”
“I think you can criticize a judge but it ought to be done in a formal way,” Hatch said.
“From what I know about Trump, he’s not a racist but he does make a lot of outrageous statements,” he added.
Hatch previously endorsed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and then Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the 2016 election, but also vowed to support Trump if he was the Republican Party’s nominee.
When asked if Trump’s comments about Curiel were so inappropriate that he’d rescind his support, Hatch said no.
“No, but I think people in this business, especially when you get to the presidential level, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes, and you’re going to have to rectify those mistakes, and he’ll have to rectify that mistake,” Hatch said, adding that inappropriate things have also been said by Democrats on the campaign trail.
TPM’s Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.