Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tore into Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and challenged House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to denounce the frontrunner for the GOP nomination.
Reid also said he prefers Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to Trump.
“I have to say this about Cruz: He at least has some principles. I don’t like what he stands for but he stands for something – very little of which I’m finding that I agree with,” Reid said at the Center for American Progress (CAP). “So I’m not as turned off by Cruz because he stands for things. Trump stands for nothing and that’s why I was so upset for Rubio. He didn’t stand for anything.”
Reid referred to Trump calling some illegal immigrants rapists in his announcement speech last June as an example of hateful rhetoric. Trump maintains that he supports “legal immigration” to the U.S. but wants to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking with heightened border security.
“The Republican Party has become the Party of Trump. The question before us now is: What does Trump’s rise say about the state of the public policy debate, and how should America respond? For conservatives, the answer is simple: Their leaders must withdraw their support of Donald Trump, and do it right now,” Reid said in his speech at CAP.
“For too long, Senator McConnell and Speaker Ryan have tried to have it both ways, giving Trump a slap on the wrist each time he says something detestable but always committing to support him at the end of the day. This is precisely the kind of moral cowardice that enabled the rise of Trump,” he added.
Reid suggested that Ryan and McConnell wear the Trump campaign’s “Make America Great Again” hats if they do not reject the real-estate mogul’s candidacy.
“If McConnell and Ryan think that Donald Trump’s racist, xenophobic demagoguery is wrong, they should not support him – period. If they refuse to revoke their support for Trump, they should both put on ‘Make America Great Again’ hats and stand behind Trump at his next press conference,” he said.
Reid called the Tea Party a “radical” group that has “flourished with dark money from the Koch Brothers.” Reid acknowledged that the “ideologies and objectives” of far-right groups are varied but argued that they all share a “searing hatred” for President Obama.
“It was obvious to even the most casual observer that the Tea Party wave was driven forward by some of the darkest forces in our culture, but instead of renouncing it Republican leaders tried to co-opt it,” he said.
“This resentment and hatred took three main forms. First, rendering President Barack Obama ‘illegitimate.’ Second, fear-mongering against Muslims. Third, sowing hatred against Latinos. These forces, which are all now synonymous with Donald Trump’s candidacy, were incubated by Republican leaders for the past eight years,” he added.
Reid connected Trump’s rhetoric to McConnell’s actions as majority leader.
“Moments after Justice Scalia’s death, the Republican leader decided to abandon the Constitution and any degree of bipartisanship to appease his radical base. That night, Donald Trump followed the Mitch McConnell playbook and said Republicans must ‘delay, delay, delay.’ They didn’t know who the nominee would be,” Reid said.
“Merrick Garland’s name hadn’t even been mentioned, yet Republicans were already resolved to undermine President Obama. That sort of ‘punch first, ask questions later leadership’ is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Donald Trump,” he added.
If Senator McConnell wonders from where Donald Trump came, Reid said he should “look in the mirror.”
“No one is working harder to support Trump than Mitch McConnell. McConnell is sacrificing the Republican majority to allow Donald Trump to pick the nominee,” he said.