CLEVELAND — The two GOP leaders of Congress, both of whom have expressed sharp frustration with the man who is now their party’s nominee for president, on Tuesday went before the Republican National Convention and endorsed Donald Trump as a better alternative to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was booed by some delegates as he walked to the podium. A Trump defeat could threaten Republican control of the Senate, a point McConnell emphasized as he made slashing attacks on the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Said McConnell:
“Hillary Clinton will say anything, do anything, and be anything to be elected president. And we cannot allow it….I’ve had my differences with Barack Obama, but I’ll give him credit for this: At least he was upfront about his plans to move America to the far left. Not Hillary. She lied about her emails. She lied about her server. She lied about Benghazi….
“At a moment when so many feel betrayed by their government, why in the world would Democrats put forward such a candidate? It is impossible to tell where the conviction ends and the ambition begins.”
McConnell listed the bills that the Senate, under his direction, has passed and President Barack Obama has vetoed: A repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a bill demanding approval of the Keystone pipeline, and an end to federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
But the majority leader specifically pointed to his own promise that the Senate would not consider an Obama nominee this year to fill the vacancy created by the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. “That honor will go to Donald Trump next year,” McConnell said.
After that, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who has served as a Trump surrogate here in Cleveland, was one of 10 freshmen senators who took the stage to express their support for Trump – another reminder that control of the chamber was at stake.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who earlier in the evening had officially pronounced Trump the nominee of the party, has likewise expressed concern at the billionaire’s language – specifically denouncing as “racist” Trump’s criticism of a federal judge of Mexican heritage, who is presiding over legal action against Trump University.
Ryan alluded to those differences, and tried to point to the silver lining within:
“Democracy is a series of choices. We Republicans have made our choice. Have we had our arguments this year? Sure, we have. You know what I call those? Signs of life. Signs of a party that’s not just going through the motions. Not just mouthing new words from the same old stuff.
“Meanwhile, what choice has the other party made in this, the incredible year filled with so many surprises?…What is their idea of a clean break? They have offered a third Obama term brought to you by another Clinton. And you’re supposed to be okay with that.”
Ryan also plugged his plans for House Republican action on a new anti-poverty program. Said the speaker:
“We offer a better way for dealing with persistent poverty in this country….None of this will happen under Hillary Clinton. Only under Donald Trump and Mike Pence do we have a chance at a better way. “