On "Meet the Press," Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was supportive of Donald Trump, but was careful not to be too supportive of some of presumptive nominees more incendiary comments.
The Senate majority leader told Chuck Todd he “couldn’t disagree more” with Trump’s recent attacks on the Hispanic judge presiding over the Trump University lawsuit. Trump has said Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s Mexican heritage is an “absolute conflict” and has called for his recusal from the case.
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McConnell distanced himself from Trump’s comments, but dodged three times when asked if they were racist:
CHUCK TODD: You know what he has said about this federal judge that’s overseeing the Trump University lawsuit. He has called – he has essentially said he cannot be impartial because he’s Hispanic. That’s – is that not a racist statement?SEN. MCCONNELL: I couldn’t disagree more with a statement like that.CHUCK TODD: Is it a racist statement?SEN. MCCONNELL: I couldn’t disagree more with what he had to say.CHUCK TODD: Okay, but do you think it’s a racist statement to say?SEN. MCCONNELL: I don’t agree with what he had to say. This is a man who was born in Indiana. All of us came here from somewhere else…
In response to conservative writer Erick Erickson’s recent comments condemning Trump’s comments about Judge Curiel as “racist”, McConnell replied, “I think the party of Lincoln wants to win the White House. The right-of-center world needs to respect the fact that the primary voters have spoken.”
Separately, McConnell admitted he is “concerned about the Hispanic vote” for Republicans. “I think it’s a big mistake for our party to write off Latino Americans. They’re an important part of our country.”
He added that he hopes Donald Trump will “change his direction on that.”
And Sen. McConnell had another message for the presumptive nominee: It’s time to unify the party.
Related: GOP Bigs Urge Trump to Move on From Judge Curiel's Mexican Ancestry
Eager for Trump to change his tone, McConnell explained, “You unify the party, by not settling scores and grudges against people you’ve been competing with. We’re all behind him now. And I’d like to see him reach out and pull us all together and give us a real shot at winning this November.”