CLEVELAND ― Mitch McConnell took the stage at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night shortly after Donald Trump formally received the party’s nomination. It was a primetime opportunity for the Senate majority leader to sing the praises of his party’s standard-bearer on a national stage.
But the most McConnell could muster was that Trump would sign the bills that McConnell would send to his desk.
The Kentucky senator’s speech was long on pillorying Hillary Clinton and short on celebrating the Republican nominee. He only mentioned Trump’s name when he rattled off a series of bills that the GOP Congress passed and President Barack Obama vetoed. Each time, he simply said, “Donald Trump would sign it.”
“With Donald Trump in the White House, Senate Republicans will build on the work we’ve done and pass more bills into law than any Senate in years,” McConnell said.
Translation: If nothing else, at least this guy is a Republican.
McConnell devoted almost the entirety of his time to attacking Clinton, who’s slated to accept the Democratic nomination next week at the party’s convention in Philadelphia.
And yet McConnell still managed to utter the name “Trump” more than his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan. The Wisconsin Republican only said the nominee’s name twice during his speech to delegates.
His praise for the real estate mogul was, well, underwhelming: “Only with Donald Trump and Mike Pence do we have a chance at a better way.”
It’s no shocker that McConnell and Ryan were reluctant to gush over Trump at the convention. Ryan has said he doesn’t consider Trump the right kind of conservative to carry the Republican banner, and he waffled on the idea of endorsing Trump before finally giving him his formal backing in early June. McConnell has given Trump some equally unemphatic support, suggesting his backing is more about party unity than any affinity for the candidate.
As Ryan put it on Tuesday, “Democracy is a series of choices. We Republicans have made ours.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.