Donald Trump would need to preserve the GOP majority in the Senate to enact his policies, the No. 2 Senate Republican said Friday.
“If Mr. Trump does become the president of the United States, he’s going to need a Republican majority to govern, and I think he would welcome working with Republican majorities in the House and the Senate to move his and the country’s agenda forward,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said on Dallas-Fort Worth radio station KSKY.
Cornyn touted the potential for new GOP voters who have supported Trump in the primaries and caucuses to boost turnout on the Republican side in the general election, running counter to the conventional wisdom that Trump would get trounced by Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner.
“I think about the people who will turn out, and I think what we’ve seen in these primaries is a lot of energy, a lot of participation by people who are not traditional Republican primary voters,” Cornyn said. “If that translates into huge turnouts in November this could be — bode very well for us.”
When asked on the conservative radio program about the potential down-ballot effects of either Trump or fellow Texas Sen. Ted Cruz securing the Republican nomination for the White House, Cornyn said that in either case, “it’s very hard for senators and congressmen to separate themselves from the national conversation and trends.”
Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer responded that Cornyn “committed a gaffe by telling the truth.”
“Donald Trump and Senate Republicans share the same agenda, and Senate Republicans who are obstructing on the Supreme Court are doing everything they can to make sure that Trump chooses the next justice,” the New York Democrat said in a statement shared with Roll Call. “Donald Trump won’t make America Great Again, but he will make Republicans the minority again.”
Cornyn also repeated Republican leadership’s view that there should be no hearings or debate on President Barack Obama’s nomination of D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick Garland during the current Congress, making the 2016 general election in at least some measure a referendum on changing the ideological balance of the court after the death of Antonin Scalia.
He also suggested that in a vacuum, the GOP should be able to beat Clinton at the ballot box, but elections aren’t contested in a vacuum.
“Hillary’s such a flawed candidate. I mean, if it were you or me … we’d already be doing a perp walk outside of some courthouse somewhere,” Cornyn said, apparently alluding to the legal scrutiny surrounding her decision to use a personal email server to conduct State Department business, some of which has been shown to contain classified information.
“You know, this is a great opportunity for us,” Cornyn said. “I just hope we don’t blow it.”
Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.