Two big names in the Republican Party rebuked Donald Trump on Sunday, saying in nationally televised interviews that Trump was absolutely wrong to attack a federal judge hearing a lawsuit against Trump University as biased, simply because of his family’s Mexican heritage.
“I couldn’t disagree more with what he had to say,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell’s appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press perfectly captured the headache that Trump presents to elected Republicans, who now find themselves having to answer for many things that Trump says or does, as McConnell was repeatedly asked if he thought Trump’s attack on a federal judge was racist.
One of McConnell’s colleagues – Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) was on ABC’s This Week, and also found himself besieged with Trump questions.
“I think he’s going to have to change,” Corker said, as he grumbled about the repeated queries on Trump.
McConnell’s very public rebuke of Trump was echoed on another Sunday talk show by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been mentioned as a possible running mate for Trump in November.
“This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made,” Gingrich told Fox News Sunday, labeling Trump’s rhetoric against Judge Gonzalo Curiel “inexcusable.”
Gingrich agreed that Trump “has every right” to criticize the judge, but made clear, casting Curiel as “Mexican” was too much.
“First of all, this judge was born in Indiana,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich’s criticism was not well received by Trump himself, who told Fox News on Monday that he thought Gingrich was “inappropriate.”
Democrats meanwhile were more than happy to weave Trump’s comments into their own election year work.
“Being a racist or bigot does not allow you to select your own judge,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA).
Another California Democrat, Ruben Gallego, made clear he also resented Trump’s words.
As for Trump, he wasn’t backing down, suggesting on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that a Muslim judge would be biased against him, as he took a few more shots at the news media.
Election Day is just over five months away.