Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell held a brief press conference Tuesday afternoon and addressed President Trump's controversial tweets telling progressive Congresswomen to "go home." McConnell opened the media availability with a statement and then took questions, including one about his immigrant wife and current Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao from CNN's Manu Raju.
"The president is not a racist, and I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country, but it's coming from all different ideological points of view," McConnell told reporters.
"We've seen the far-left throw accusations of racism at everyone, anyone who disagrees with them on anything including the Speaker of the House," he said.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think there's been a consensus that political rhetoric has really gotten way, way overheated all across the political spectrum. We've heard facilities on the U.S. border called concentration camps.
We've seen the far-left throw accusations of racism at everyone, anyone who disagrees with them on anything including the Speaker of the House. We've seen a freshman Democratic Congresswoman use anti-Semitic (INAUDIBLE) and imply people only support Israel because of campaign contributions. The most vile accusations and insults against our nation have become incredibly routine, and we've seen back-and-forth over the past few days.
Most of you know Justice Scalia was my sort of all-time favorite, and here's what he used to say. He said, "I don't attack people. I attack ideas," and I think that's a good lesson for all of us. From the president to the Speaker to freshmen members of the House, all of us have a responsibility to elevate the public discourse. Our words do matter. We all know politics is a contact sport.
But it's about time we lowered the temperature all across the board. All of us ought to contribute to a better level of discourse.
MANU RAJU, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: You're married to an immigrant that is a nationalized U.S. citizen. If someone were to say to her she should go back to her country as a criticism of federal policies, wouldn't you consider that a racist attack?
MCCONNELL: Well, the Secretary of Transportation came here at age eight legally, not speaking a word of English, and has realized the American dream. And I think all of us think that this is a process of renewal that's going on in this country for a very long time and is good for America. We ought to continue it.
RAJU: Was it racist for him to say go back to the country of (INAUDIBLE)?
MCCONNELL: As I said, the--the immigration has been a fulfilling of the American dream, and new people who come here have a lot of ambition, a lot of energy, tend to do very well and invigorate our country, and my wife's a good example of that.
REPORTER: Would you ever use the words go back to where you came from?
MCCONNELL: Look, I'm--I'm obviously a big fan of legal immigration. It's been a big part of my family for a quarter of a century. As I look around the country and watch the contributions that have been made by new arrivals and the children of new arrivals, it's been reinvigorating America for hundreds of years. So, I'm a big fan of legal immigration.
REPORTER: Do you think that the President would be more likely to tone down his rhetoric if Republican leaders like yourself spoke out more forcefully against him?
MCCONNELL: Well, I think I've just said--I think everybody ought to tone down their rhetoric. We have examples of that across the ideological spectrum in the country, all across it. Everyone ought to tone down their rhetoric, and we ought to move back to talking about the issues.
REPORTER: But you stop short of calling his comments racist.
MCCONNELL: Look, I--I'm sorry?
REPORTER: But you stopped short of calling his comments racist.
MCCONNELL: Well, the president is not a racist. The president is not a racist, and I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country, but it's coming from all different ideological points of view. That's the point. To single out any segment of this I think is a mistake. There has been this kind of rhetoric from a whole lot of different sources all across the ideological spectrum in our country.