Columns

McConnell: Trump Won't 'Change the Republican Party in Any Fundamental Way'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on May 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in part explained his support for Donald Trump with a reminder of separation of powers — that “regardless of who we end up with in the White House, you are constrained by the Constitution.”

McConnell was on MSNBC this morning promoting his new memoir, The Long Game.

“The short game has never worked for me and I don’t think it works for most people. The long game means you dig in. You suffer the inevitable setbacks that come for all of us. You don’t give up and you keep pursuing the things that you think are important. And that’s been the story of my career,” he said.

The short game worked for Trump, he theorized, because “the voters this year were looking for something very different, particularly right-of-center voters, and you could argue the left-of-center voters are also expressing themselves in a similar way.”

“Madison divided the power and nobody can do everything they want to. And every president is sobered by the reality. But there are all kinds of impediments,” he said in response to the prospect of Trump being an absolutist in the White House.

“And you know, in today’s politics, and people are legitimately unhappy, I mean, the average person is about $3,000 or $4,000 a year worse off today than when President Obama came to office, you can understand the anxiety and the desire for a kind of quick turnaround,” McConnell continued. “But what I think, and the reason I don’t have any trouble supporting Donald Trump, is I don’t want four more years just like the last eight. And I don’t want Hillary Clinton.”

“…And given where the dynamism is in the Democratic Party today, there’s no chance that Hillary Clinton is going to be any different from Barack Obama.”

McConnell described Trump as “a phenomenon.”

“Look, I haven’t changed my views and I don’t believe Donald Trump is going to change the Republican Party in any fundamental way,” he said. “He’s appealed to a lot of voters. He’s going to be the nominee. And I, for one, don’t have any trouble supporting him because he’s going to pick the next Supreme Court justice, for example, and I’m confident, based on the list that he put out, that this is going to be somebody that – that would be, from my point of view, the right kind of choice for the country.”

“But I don’t think the Republican Party fundamentally is going to change. What he is helping us do is reach out to voters that have not lately voted for Republicans, and I think that could end up making him very competitive in November.”

Asked if he thinks Trump will stick to the list of potential Supreme Court nominees he released, McConnell replied, “I do. Yeah, absolutely.”