- Business Insider
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday responded to Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol’s weekend assertion that he would put forward a strong third-party candidate to compete with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
“Well, I hope he’s not successful, because that will help elect Hillary Clinton to the presidency,” McConnell told Business Insider in an interview that centered on his newly released memoir, “The Long Game.” “It’s hard to run as an independent and be successful. You could conceivably take votes away from a right-of-center nominee and make it more likely that a liberal gets elected president.”
“I like Bill Kristol and I know he’s a smart guy, but I hope he’s unsuccessful,” the Senate majority leader continued.
Trump slammed Kristol, the editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, at a press conference on Tuesday. He called Kristol a “loser” days after Kristol alluded to a possible independent candidacy in the 2016 presidential election.
Kristol tweeted on Sunday that there would be an “independent candidate – an impressive one, with a strong team and a real chance,” prompting Trump to tweet in response, calling Kristol a “dummy.” Kristol responded that he hoped Trump’s “nervousness about an independent candidacy doesn’t affect his composure.”
Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin and John Heilemann reported Tuesday that Kristol is trying to recruit David French, a conservative lawyer and veteran of the Iraq war, to run against Trump and Clinton.
McConnell said that Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, won the primary “the old-fashioned way” by going out and winning elections.
“The voters have [been] pretty well spoken in the right-of-center world, and they’ve chosen Donald Trump to be our nominee,” he told Business Insider. “And I think it would be rather arrogant for me to say, ‘Well, all you folks are wrong, and we ought to nominate someone else.'”
House Speaker Paul Ryan and a number of other prominent elected Republicans have refused to throw their support behind Trump.
McConnell said that the filling of the Supreme Court vacancy would be the most important issue for voters heading into the election. He has worked to block President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this year, maintaining that the next president should appoint a new justice.
“Trump will appoint the right kind of person to the Supreme Court,” he said, praising the list released by the Manhattan businessman earlier this month.
The Supreme Court “will determine probably more things than the next president on what Americans like in the next generation.”
Trump on Tuesday echoed those sentiments. He suggested that an independent candidate could lose the general election for Republicans, which would put Supreme Court justice nominations in the hands of Clinton.
If they do an indie, assuming it’s decent, which I don’t think anybody with a reputation would do it because they’d look like fools. But what you’re going to do is you lose the election for the Republicans, and therefore you lose the Supreme Court. Therefore, you will have a group of people put on the Supreme Court where this country will never, ever recover, it will never, ever be the same.
Watch the comments from McConnell below:
And watch more from our interview with the Senate majority leader here:
Pamela Engel contributed to this report.