WASHINGTON ― President-elect Donald Trump may have picked a chief strategist who has ties to white nationalists and the alt-right, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has nothing to say about it.
Asked Wednesday about Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) demand that Trump rescind the job offer to Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, McConnell ducked.
“Yeah, I’m not going to comment on White House personnel choices,” McConnell said.
Reid had argued that if Trump really wants to make good on his promises to heal the wounds opened during his invective-laden campaign and soothe the fears of millions of Americans, he must dump Bannon, whose news outlet served to propagate numerous racist and white nationalist story lines.
Pressed on whether he had anything to say to Americans who are afraid for their futures in the wake of the campaign, McConnell did not offer much, reaching back to the days of slavery to offer a historical perspective.
“Well look, you know, American campaigns are pretty robust,” McConnell said. “I think a lot of Americans don’t realize we’ve had a lot of elections like this in the past. I’m thinking of 1824 ― Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, John Adams,” he said.
Jackson was a slaveowner and Clay’s compromises helped preserve slavery until not long before the Civil War.
“Almost anything I heard in the course of this campaign pales in comparison to what Adams and Jefferson said about each other, usually in unsigned documents,” McConnell said. “American campaigns are pretty spirited, pretty robust. What’s different is with the internet, and 24-hour TV, everybody [is] constantly confronted with all this.”
He went on to tell Americans to get over it and move on with their lives.
“Look, I think it’s time for the election to be over,” McConnell said, praising the gracious acceptance of the results by the current White House and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. “It’s time to accept the results of the election, to lower the tone and to see what we can do together to make progress for the country.”
CORRECTION: This article initially stated Henry Clay authored the three-fifths compromise; in fact, he authored the Compromise of 1850 and the Missouri Compromise.