presidential candidate Donald Trump is joined by his wife
Melania as he speaks during a news conference at the Trump
National Golf Club Westchester, Tuesday, June 7, 2016, in
Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
Leading Republicans united Tuesday in an extraordinary
denunciation of Donald Trump's attacks on a federal judge, with
House Speaker Paul Ryan calling them the "textbook definition
of a racist comment." Yet Ryan stood by his endorsement of
the presumptive presidential nominee.
that his comments were being "misconstrued" but did not
back down or apologize for saying repeatedly that U.S. District
Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not preside fairly over a case
involving Trump University because of the judge's Mexican
"I do not
feel that one's heritage makes them incapable of being impartial,
but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump
University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I
am receiving a fair trial," Trump said Tuesday in a lengthy
statement. He also renewed his insistence that students at the
school, far from being fleeced as some of them and authorities in
New York and California contend, were overwhelmingly satisfied.
Trump ended his
statement by vowing not to discuss the case further, and Tuesday
night he stuck to the script as he addressed supporters at Trump
National Golf Club in Westchester County, north of New York City.
Breaking from his
usual off-the-cuff style, Trump delivered a measured speech, aided
by a teleprompter, calling for unity while confining his criticism
to presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
understand the responsibility of carrying the mantle, and I will
never ever let you down," Trump said.
He also made an
appeal to supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, saying,
"We welcome you with open arms."
Trump's change in
tone came after a day in which a GOP senator who had previously
indicated support for him withdrew his backing and Republicans
attempts to unite behind Trump looked at risk of unraveling.
oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump's latest statements,
in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled
like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my
party's nominee for president regardless of the political impact
on my candidacy or the Republican Party," Sen. Mark Kirk of
Illinois, who is in a competitive re-election race, said in a
statement. Kirk suffered a stroke in 2012 and often uses a
Kirk was the
first leading Republican to publicly disavow earlier support for
Trump. Most others, including Ryan, reaffirmed their plans to
support him. But the situation exposed the peril for Republicans
forced to answer for Trump's latest divisive comment, distracting
from their own agendas as well as their goals of winning back the
White House and hanging onto Senate control.
Republicans were squirming over what might have been the
billionaire's most incendiary stance to date — the claim that
Curiel couldn't preside fairly over the Trump University case
because the U.S.-born judge is of Mexican heritage and Trump wants
to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
those comments he made. Claiming a person can't do their job
because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a
racist comment," Ryan said. "I think that should be
absolutely disavowed. It's absolutely unacceptable."
"But do I
believe Hillary Clinton is the answer? No, I do not," Ryan
the word "racist" but made their disapproval clear.
Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said that "it's time to
quit attacking various people that you competed with or various
minority groups in the country and get on message."
Ron Weiser, one
of the recently named top fundraisers for Trump and the Republican
Party, said the nominee's comments on the judge are
"obviously making it more difficult" to raise money.
a Minnesota broadcast company billionaire, recently gave $100,000
to a pro-Trump group and describes himself as a reluctant Trump
backer. He said of Trump's judge comments: "It's ridiculous.
He's out of line. You don't attack a federal judge, and you
certainly don't attack him on the heritage of his parents."
Only his fear of
Clinton picking Supreme Court justices is enough to keep him
giving money to Trump, Hubbard said.
Sen. Tim Scott,
R-S.C., the only black Republican senator, called Trump's comments
on the judge "racially toxic" yet said, "He needs
to get on to the general election and we need to win."
it, meet the old Trump, just like the new Trump," said Sen.
Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who has long opposed the billionaire's
candidacy. "We've got what we've got. That's not somebody who
can win the White House."
ridiculed Republicans for denouncing Trump's comments yet
continuing to back him, evidence of how much ammunition Trump is
giving them as they try to boost their own flawed presumptive
nominee in Clinton.
Republicans believe that a man who believes in religious and
ethnic tests for federal judges is fit to be president of the
United States, they must explain why this is an acceptable
position," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.