Mitch McConnell Talks Trump, Cruz And The Future Of The Senate

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One-on-one with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on his politics, President Obama, the GOP now and Donald Trump. Plus: How the Presidential election could shift control of the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, is famous for saying his most important job was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. That did not happen. But Mitch McConnell, senator from Kentucky with the owlish gaze and the deep understanding of the workings of the Senate, says he’s out to play the long game. Now he’s backing Donald Trump, and saying that will be all right. This hour On Point, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on his life and long game. — Tom Ashbrook


Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Majority Leader. Author of the new memoir, "The Long Game." (@SenateMajLdr)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Atlantic: Mitch McConnell's Unlikely Allies — "For the most part, however, McConnell has found that the Freedom Caucus has its uses—at least during an election year, when he doesn’t want his conference taking risky votes. This way, whenever Democrats or the general public starts grumbling about Congress’s infuriating inability to get stuff done, the Senate leader can shrug and wave archly in the direction of the troublemakers in the House."

CBS News: ​Mitch McConnell on Trump and divisiveness in politics — "Since becoming Majority Leader in 2015, McConnell struck deals with the administration on major transportation, education and cybersecurity bills. He has warm words for Joe Biden, but says the president can be a challenge. 'I admire his intellect,' McConnell said, adding, 'It is a little bit grating to kind of, you know, be lectured to.'"

POLITICO Magazine: Did Donald Trump Just Hand the Senate to Elizabeth Warren? — "In a normal year, the Senate would be likely to stay in Republican hands. But now that Trump has secured the nomination, the prospect of a powerful anti-Trump turnout puts as many as a dozen Republican-held seats in play—with the possibility of electing as many as eight new female senators to join the 12 Democratic women who will return in 2017."

See A Transcript Of Our Conversation With Sen. McConnell

Sen. McConnell on Trump's Extreme Claims: "No matter what a candidate for president may say during the campaign, once someone is sworn in, they are constrained by the Constitution – about what the Constitution allows and doesn’t allow, what the law allows and doesn’t allow. And I think many presidents make claims during the campaign that they are unable to achieve unless they can engage in an extraordinary interaction with the legislative body with which they’d be confronted the day after they’re sworn in."

Sen. McConnell on Political Rhetoric: "I ran into Trump in the green room at the N.R.A. convention in my hometown of Louisville a couple of weeks ago. And I said, Hey Donald, have you got a script? And he pulled it out of his pocket. And I said, are you gonna use it? And he said, I hate scripts. He said, they’re boring. And I said, put me down in favor of boring. I think you need to use a script more often. I stayed and watched his speech, and he did a little of both, he did finally pull the script out and read it and make the points that needed to be made. The point I was trying to make to him is that it’s pretty clear that entertaining audiences and tweeting has gotten him to the place he is today. My view is, that won’t take him to the White House. And I’d like to see the attacks, particularly on fellow Republicans, stop. I’d like to see him use a prepared text more often. And present to the public a thoughtful presentation on the issues that are confronting our country at this particular juncture."

Sen. McConnell On The Appeal Of A Divided Government: "There are plenty of things we disagree with the President on. But when you have divided government, I think what the American people are saying is, we know you’ve got some big disagreements, but why don’t you look for the things you agree on and do those? So at the risk of extending my answer a bit further, in the year and a half when I’ve been responsible for setting the agenda in the Senate, we’ve looked for the things that we can agree on."

Read An Excerpt Of "The Long Game" By Mitch McConnell

Presidential Election Stirs Senate Expectations

Susan Davis, Congressional reporter for NPR News. (@davisusan)

Robert Costa, national political reporter for the Washington Post. (@costareports)

Washington Post: Vulnerable Republican senators have a big problem: Voters don’t know who they are — "After nearly 12 years in the Senate, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr holds a dubious distinction: a lot of people in his home state don’t know if he’s any good at his job."

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This program aired on June 1, 2016.


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