Politics

McConnell Talks Trump on Media Tour

Senate majority leader usually declines to discuss the presidential race

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is touting his new memoir. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is doing something he rarely does: discussing the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump.  

At the Capitol, the Kentucky Republican rarely comments on the race for the White House. But in recent days he has been making the rounds in the media touting his memoir , "The Long Game ," and delving into questions about Trump, his party's bombastic standard-bearer.  

McConnell has said he will support Trump, and sought to tamp down concerns that the likely nominee could turn the GOP upside down.  

[ McConnell's Memoir Bashes Outside Conservative Groups ]  

"I don’t believe Donald Trump is going to change the Republican Party in a fundamental way,” McConnell said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday, adding that Trump could bring in new GOP voters.  

McConnell also noted that the next president could sway the direction of the Supreme Court. Trump has already released a list of conservative judges he would consider naming to the court, which McConnell called "outstanding."  

"And I’m comfortable voting for him, because on the big things that I think have the greatest impact on the future of the country, at the top of the list is the Supreme Court. I think he’ll be just fine," McConnell said on Hugh Hewitt's radio show on Monday.  

[ Trump's Charm Offensive Impresses Senate GOP ]  

McConnell's comments drew fire from a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who did not hold back in a statement on  Tuesday.

"Sen. McConnell's years of knee-jerk obstruction paved the way for Trump's rise, so it is fitting that Senator McConnell spent his book tour kissing the Donald's ring," wrote Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson. 

McConnell tepidly endorsed Trump shortly after the businessman became the presumptive nominee  this month. The majority leader and his Senate leadership team also recently met with Trump , and McConnell has said the two talk occasionally on the phone. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin has yet to endorse Trump .  

[ Clinton: Trump's Foreign Policy Would be 'Disastrous' ]  

McConnell also addressed concerns that Trump's handling of foreign policy would be "unpredictable." The presumptive nominee has angered allies over some of his comments, including his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.  

"I think Donald Trump will understand when he’s sworn in, the limits of his authority. He’ll have a White House counsel. There will be others who point out there’s certain things you can do and you can’t do," McConnell told Hewitt. "And it’s not quite like, you know, making a speech before a big audience and entertaining people. And I think he’s a smart guy, and I think he’s going to figure that out. So I’m not worried about it."

Contact Bowman at  bridgetbowman@rollcall.com  and follow her on Twitter  @bridgetbhc .

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