- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday called presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump a “phenomenon” while saying he doesn’t think Mr. Trump is going to change the Republican party itself “in any fundamental way.”

“I think Donald Trump is a phenomenon,” Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I haven’t changed my views, and I don’t believe Donald Trump is going to change the Republican party in any fundamental way.”

“He’s appealed to a lot of voters, he’s going to be the nominee, and I, for one, don’t have any trouble supporting him because he’s going to pick the next Supreme Court justice, for example,” Mr. McConnell said.

“And I’m confident based on the list that he put out that this is going to be somebody that would [be] from my point of view, the right kind of choice for the country,” he said. “But I don’t think the Republican party fundamentally is going to change.”

“What he is helping us do is reach out to voters that have not lately voted for Republicans, and I think that could end up making him very competitive in November,” Mr. McConnell said.

Asked if House Speaker Paul D. Ryan should endorse Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell said, “You’ll have to ask Ryan about that.”

“My view is that Trump has earned the nomination because he went out and got the most votes, and we need to be respectful of the electoral process that has produced this nominee,” Mr. McConnell said.

A poll released this week showed Mr. Trump tied with likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the battleground state of New Hampshire, with GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte holding a 1-point lead over Democrat Maggie Hassan in Ms. Ayotte’s bid for re-election in the Granite State.

Mr. McConnell said it’s still unclear what Mr. Trump’s effect on such down-ballot races will be.

“What I do think is that Senate races are big enough to where you can paint your own picture,” he said. “And all of our candidates are going to be in a good position to run.”

Mr. McConnell also reiterated his call for Sen. Marco Rubio to change his mind and seek re-election in Florida.

“We’re doing everything we can to encourage him to run,” he said.

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