Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid accused House and Senate GOP leaders of “moral cowardice” Thursday for not disavowing GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
“No one is working harder to support Donald Trump than Mitch McConnell,” Reid said of the Kentucky Republican who is Senate majority leader.
Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate leader’s decision not to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court reflects the sort of obstruction that Trump embraces. “Donald Trump followed the Mitch McConnell playbook,” in calling for “delay, delay delay,” he said.
The fact that even in speaking against Trump, McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., will not oppose the billionaire businessman’s candidacy is, “precisely the kind of moral cowardice that enabled the rise of Trump,” Reid said in a speech before the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
“For too long, Senator McConnell and Speaker Ryan have tried to have it both ways, giving Trump a slap on the wrist each time he says something detestable, but always committing to support him at the end of the day,” Reid said.
“After years of refusing to denounce ‘birtherism,’ McConnell and Ryan are now supporting the most prominent birther in the nation. Why are they waiting to withdraw their support? What more do they need to see?”
The comments came during a wide-ranging speech in which Reid portrayed the GOP’s opposition to considering high court nominee Merrick Garland as the latest in a pattern.
“Republicans are slamming the door on a good man they once embraced,” Reid said. “This is exactly the kind of mindless behavior that has hollowed out our political debate.”
That pattern, Reid said, extends to policy debates in the past eight years, including immigration, health care, payroll tax cuts, the auto bailout and unemployment insurance.
The Nevada Democrat was making his first extensive public remarks about Obama’s decision to send over the nomination of Garland, the chief judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Reid said the GOP’s “obstruction and scorched earth policies” from the outset of Obama’s administration eight years ago laid the groundwork for Trump’s candidacy, saying that there’s been such a drought in modern political debate that all Trump needed to do was strike a match.
Reid’s speech was pushed back a day after the original time conflicted with the announcement of the Supreme Court nomination.
Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016
Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.