McConnell sees value of Trump

Greg Nash

CLEVELAND — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) finally showed some enthusiasm for Donald Trump Tuesday evening during a fiery speech at Quicken Loans Arena.

McConnell, who gave Trump only lukewarm support in May and has since criticized the candidate’s unorthodox campaign, offered a full-throated endorsement at the convention.

{mosads}“My job has taught me the value of Trump. I can distinguish people who are in this for others and people who are in it for themselves,” McConnell said.

But his speech didn’t play particularly well with the GOP crowd, which booed him several times when he appeared on stage. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a staunch Trump backer, received a much more energetic response later in the evening.

It was a striking change from McConnell’s otherwise chilly relationship with Trump. At a recent meeting on Capitol Hill, the billionaire complained he was “not feeling the love” from McConnell, according to a source who attended.

McConnell warmed up to Trump on Tuesday mainly by contrasting him with Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee.

“I’m here to tell you that Hillary Clinton will say anything, do anything and be anything to get elected president and we cannot allow it,” he said.

The Senate leader painted an ominous portrait of Clinton as someone who has repeatedly bent the truth to shield herself from criticism.

He accused her of lying about her use of a private email server, the factors leading up to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, and coming under sniper fire on an airport tarmac in Bosnia.  

McConnell bashed the former secretary of State, New York senator and first lady for changing her position on a variety of high-profile issues over the years, and accused her of following her political ambitions first and foremost.  

“At a moment when so many people feel betrayed by their government, why in the world would Democrats put forward such a candidate,” he said. “Hillary has changed her position so many times, it’s impossible to tell where the conviction ends and the ambition begins.”

He pointed to her statements on Iran’s ability to enrich uranium as well as her evolving positions on the Keystone XL p oilipeline and so-called sanctuary cities that are home to thousands of illegal immigrants.

“Not since Baghdad Bob has there been a public figure with such a tortured relationship with the truth,” McConnell said, referring to the one-time spokesman for former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

McConnell then pivoted to the policy benefits of having Trump in the White House, listing legislation to repeal ObamaCare and defund Planned Parenthood as bills that would come law.

He also highlighted the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

“If Hillary Clinton is our president, nothing will change, so tonight I ask you to let us continue our work,” he said. “Let us put justices on the Supreme Court who cherish our Constitution. Let’s keep the Senate. And let’s elect a president and vice president who really believe America is exceptional.”

McConnell warned that letting Clinton win the Oval Office would encourage Democrats to “double down” on what he called their “cynical” approach to governing. He cited a recent impasse between the parties on legislation funding efforts to halt the spread of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus linked to birth defects.

Republicans accused Democrats of playing politics with the legislation, while Democrats have leveled the same charge against the GOP. 

Tags Donald Trump GOP convention Hillary Clinton Mitch McConnell

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