WASHINGTON -- Republicans have only themselves to blame for Donald Trump's rise, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) argued Thursday, declaring if Trump wins the White House, Mexico will build his infamous wall -- to keep Americans out.
Republicans have created the toxic environment in which Trump can insult immigrants, black people, Muslims and just anybody else by spending the last seven years spinning what he called the "big lie."
"Again and again, Republican leaders told Americans that any policy put forward by Democrats was nefarious simply because it came from President Obama," Reid said.
That extended even to Republican ideas, if Democrats embraced them, and the effort to maintain the lie with conservative voters took the GOP into dark places, Reid said.
"Like any lie, maintaining this one took Republicans deeper and deeper into dishonesty," he said. "Republicans soon found that propping up the lie meant they had to question any independent authority that might contradict it. So they started routinely questioning science, statistics and any other independent research that supported Democratic policies."
It created an environment where many Republicans believe things that simply are not true, such as the idea that unemployment has gone up under Obama, rather than declined to 4.9 percent in the most recent data.
"So what thrived in the wasteland Republican leaders created?" Reid asked. "Resentment and hatred, which Republican leaders were all too eager to embrace and too cowardly to renounce."
GOP leaders made things worse by repeatedly failing to reject such obvious falsehoods, and even dabbling in the phenomenon that Trump championed: questioning whether Obama was even really an American.
"Republicans in Congress did nothing to quell this blatant lie," Reid said. "Republicans in the House introduced legislation suggesting that our president wasn’t born in America. And who was the most prominent Republican to give the birther movement a platform? Donald Trump."
That has all led to the point where the Grand Old Party finds itself today -- aghast at the prospect of a Trump nomination even as it continues its behavior toward Obama, making the unprecedented decision to not even weigh his Supreme Court appointee.
"If [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell and [House Speaker Paul] Ryan think that Donald Trump’s racist, xenophobic demagoguery is wrong, they should not support him -- period," Reid said.
"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. Be a mini-Christie, I guess," he said, referring to the uncomfortable appearances of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on the campaign trail with Trump.
Reid's punch line was that if the toxic environment sown by Republicans sprouts a Trump presidency, at least one of the real estate developer's unlikely campaign promises will come true.
"He may be right about the Mexicans building a wall and paying for it themselves, because if he's elected, they'll build one to keep us from going into Mexico," Reid said. "They'll be happy to do that."
Editor's note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.