On Tuesday morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered up unambiguous denunciations of Donald Trump’s racist attack on U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s Latino heritage, with Ryan characterizing Trump’s comments as “sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment” and McConnell describing them as “outrageous and unacceptable.”
But in the next breath, both politicians reiterated that they still plan to support Trump. Ryan cited pragmatic reasons. “Do I believe that Hillary Clinton is going to be the answer to solving these problems? I do not. I believe we have more common ground on the policy issues of the day and we have more likelihood of getting our policies enacted with him than we do with her.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 7, 2016
Along similar lines, McConnell, who as recently as Sunday refused to denounce Trump’s racism, said “the less said about [Trump’s comments] the better. What we ought to be working on is unifying the party and getting ready to try and defeat Hillary Clinton in the fall.”
Listen To Paul Ryan Say That He Cares More About Gutting Medicare Then He Does About RacismJustice by CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) believes that Republican…thinkprogress.orgThe implication is that American’s two most powerful office-holding Republicans care less about racism than they do about defeating Hillary Clinton. They’ve labeled Trump’s perspective racist and outrageous, but those concerns are being subordinated to a more pressing concern — electing someone with an R next to their name as president, even if they believe Latino judges have no business presiding over certain cases simply because of their ethnicity.
Leadership’s sentiment was echoed by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC).
Sen. Tim Scott, the highest ranking black Republican, says Trump remarks were "racially toxic." Won't rescind endorsement.
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) June 7, 2016
In contrast stands remarks made by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in a New York Times report published Tuesday. Graham, who recently seemed to be warming to Trump, characterized Trump’s attack on Curiel as “the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy.”
“If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it,” Graham added. “There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.”
Far from denouncing Trump’s remarks, some of his supporters actually appear to be following the attack-the-questioners-as-the-real-racists script Trump outlined during a Monday conference call detailed by Bloomberg.
During an appearance on CNN on Tuesday, Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord accused Speaker Ryan of being the real racist for allegedly embracing “identity politics.”
— POLITICO (@politico) June 7, 2016
During the Monday conference call, Trump said to his supporters, “The people asking the questions — those are the racists… I would go at ’em.”