Sen. Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor Monday about Republican support of Donald Trump. Reid cited the blog Red State to make his case against Sen. Mitch McConnell for refusing to denounce Trump's "racist" remarks about the judge presiding over the Trump University case. Transcript:
REID: Today the Senate is returning from a 10-day recess. But even though Republicans took 10 days off, the Zika virus did not.
Last week, a child was born in New Jersey with severe birth defects caused by the Zika virus. Thousands of our citizens are exposed to Zika now – today. Zika will only get worse. As the weather continues to warm and the mosquitoes become active, we will inevitably see local transmission. The number of infected Americans will skyrocket.
In light of the threat posed by Zika, one would expect Republicans to spend their break working on an emergency spending bill to send to the president’s desk with the full amount – $1.9 billion. They did not.
Instead, Republicans spent their recess boasting their Republican standard bearer, Donald Trump. The Republican Party’s capitulation to Donald Trump is complete. As headlined last week in The Washington Post: “It’s official: The GOP is now the Party of Trump.”
I was especially disappointed to see that the senior senator from Kentucky personally led this pro-Trump propaganda tour. Senator McConnell spent last week as Donald Trump’s head cheerleader – a trumpet. The Republican leader left Washington 10 days ago without doing his job on Zika so he could stump for Trump.
And in the last 10 days it has become clear that Senator McConnell will go to any length to support Donald Trump. Consider the Republican leader’s refusal to denounce Donald Trump’s racist attack on United States District Court Judge Curiel, a man born in Indiana.
Donald Trump opined a federal judge should be disqualified from presiding on his case because of his Mexican heritage. He went even further in saying he would feel the same way if the judge were Muslim. And how did the Republican leader respond? Senator McConnell repeatedly refused to say Donald Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel’s ethnicity are racist.
This is precisely the type of failure that gave rise to Donald Trump in the first place.
Senator McConnell and congressional Republican leaders have never taken a stand against Trump’s vile rhetoric. That’s because the hate emanating from Trump’s mouth reflects the Republican Party’s agenda here in the United States Senate for the past seven and a half years. The agenda that Senator McConnell himself promoted.
For years, Senator McConnell and other Republican leaders embraced the darkest elements within their party. The Republican Party made anti-woman, anti-Latino, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-Obama policies the norm. Trump is the logical conclusion of what Republican leaders have been saying and doing for seven and a half years.
By refusing to denounce Trump’s attack on a federal judge for the racism it clearly connotes, it shows Senator McConnell is the poster boy for Republicans’ spinelessness that allowed Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee for president of the United States.
I have made this argument for months, and I am not the only one making it anymore. Now, some Republicans are joining me. The conservative blog, RedState, railed against Senator McConnell’s refusal to condemn Trump’s racist attacks. This is what they said:
“[Senator McConnell] fell back to the last coward’s refuge: we have to support Trump because he won the primary.”
The junior Senator from Nebraska, a Republican, is willing to say what Senator McConnell won’t. Earlier today, Senator Sasse tweeted:
“Public Service Announcement: Saying someone can’t do a specific job because of his or her race is the literal definition of ‘racism.’”
Newt Gingrich, former Republican Speaker of the House, called Trump’s comments “inexcusable.”
But for his part, Senator McConnell is doubling down on Trump. The Republican leader is waging a non-stop campaign to persuade any Republicans who have doubts about supporting Trump to drop their complaints and fall in line.
The Republican Leader even went so far as to compare Donald Trump to President Dwight Eisenhower. Donald Trump is a failed businessman who bilked millions of Americans out of their hard-earned money. No wonder he won’t release his tax returns. Trump doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as President Eisenhower, who led the Allied Forces in World War II and integrated America’s schools.
Comparing Eisenhower to Trump? Give us a break.
Donald Trump is the converse of all for which leaders like Eisenhower, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan stood. They stood for equality, fairness and decency. Trump and McConnell obviously do not. Donald Trump stands for hatred and division.
Senator McConnell also defended Donald Trump’s temperament, reassuring everyone that as president, Donald Trump –– “would be fine.” The Republican leader also extolled Trump’s intelligence. Senator McConnell even claimed the Republican Party is “at an all-time high,” with Trump at its helm. That’s how the Republican leader spent last week. He wasn’t fighting for resources to stop the spread of Zika. He was leading the cheers as he stumped for Trump.
Senator McConnell was doing zero for the 100,000 poisoned residents of Flint, Michigan.
Senator McConnell was doing zero to fund our nation’s response to the opioid epidemic.
And Senator McConnell was doing zero to allow the Supreme Court to have nine Justices.
The Republican leader was too busy being a trumpet for Trump. And now that he has firmly entrenched himself in Trump’s corner, I can’t help but wonder just how far Senator McConnell’s support extends.
For example, were Donald Trump’s comments about Judge Curiel racist? Senator McConnell wouldn’t answer that question yesterday, so I will give him another opportunity today. And there are other questions that the Republican Leader needs to answer.
Does he believe that a federal judge can be disqualified because of his Mexican heritage?
Does he believe these attacks are acceptable for a man that wants to be the President of the United States?
Does he agree that judges should face a religious test?
Senator McConnell said last week “we know that Donald Trump will make the right kind of Supreme Court appointments.” After Donald Trump’s latest attacks on the judiciary, does he truly believe that Trump is the right man to pick nominees to our nation’s highest court?
The Republican leader defended Trump’s temperament, saying he “would be fine” as president.
I ask the Senator from Kentucky: Is it “fine” when Donald Trump calls women pigs and dogs?
Is it “fine” when Trump calls immigrants rapists and murderers?
Is it “fine” that his party’s presidential candidate urges violence at rallies?
These are not rhetorical questions. The Republican leader has so fully embraced Donald Trump that we are all unclear as to where Trump’s platform ends and Senate Republicans’ begins. If the Republican leader believes he is fit to be president of the United States, he must explain why this is acceptable.
The nation has a right to know how far Senate Republicans’ support of Donald Trump extends. And that starts with the Republican leader. Because now, there does not appear to be any daylight between Donald Trump and Senator McConnell.