McConnell Says Trump Not Racist, All Sides Should Lower The Temperature

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to the media during a news conference on Capitol Hill June 27, 2019.(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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July 16, 2019 3:03 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday declined to criticize President Trump’s racist attacks on a group of Democratic congresswomen on Monday, instead declaring that Trump is not a racist and accusing both sides of inflammatory rhetoric.

In a recent spout of racist tweets against four congresswomen of color, Trump suggested they go back to the countries they came from, even though three of the four were born in the U.S.

Instead of criticizing President Trump for the remarks that have been widely labeled racist, McConnell deflected by praising legal immigration and warning that “it’s about time we lowered the temperature across the board.”

“The most vile accusations and insults against our nation have become incredibly routine, and we’ve seen back and forth over the past few days. Most of you know Justice Scalia was my sort of all-time favorite. Here’s what he used to say. He said, ‘I don’t attack people. I attack ideas.’ And I think that’s a good lesson for all of us,” he said Tuesday. “From the President to the Speaker to freshmen members of the House, all of us have a responsibility to elevate the public discourse. Our words do matter. We all know politics is a contact sport, but it’s about time we lowered the temperature all across the board, all of us ought to contribute to a better level of discourse.”

When asked if he would ever use the same words as Trump, McConnell dodged.

Look, I am, obviously, a big fan of legal immigration. It’s been a big part of my family for a quarter of a century,” he said. “As I look around the country and watch the contributions that have been made by new arrivals and the children of new arrivals, it’s been reinvigorating America for hundreds of years. So I’m a big fan of legal immigration.”

“The President is not a racist. The President is not a racist,” McConnell said when asked again about the tweets. “And I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country. But it’s coming from all different ideological points of view, that’s the point. To single out any segment of this, I think is a mistake.”

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