Tuesday 21 February 2017

Republicans' 'moral cowardice' lets Trump thrive: top Democrat

Steven Dennis in Washington

Published 18/03/2016 | 02:30

Provocative: Donald Trump
Provocative: Donald Trump

LEADING Democrat Harry Reid has torn into Republican leaders, accusing them of 'moral cowardice' for allowing Donald Trump to thrive.

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"The Republican Party has become without question the party of Trump," Senate Minority Leader Reid said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should now say "enough" and "do it now," the Nevada Democrat said.

Trump's rise has unsettled many Republican leaders, particularly on Capitol Hill, who remain deeply wary of the real-estate billionaire's potential for divisive and inflammatory statements. But they have been unable to unify behind an alternative, which has left many Republicans in Congress trying to distance themselves from Trump while saying they will support whoever wins the nomination.

Senator Reid used his fiery speech to make the case that Republicans need to own up to their role in Trump's success."If Senator McConnell wonders from where Donald Trump came from - he should look in the mirror," said Senator Reid.

He added that if Senator McConnell disagrees with Trump's "racist" statements, he should say so and reject him outright.

But they haven't rejected Trump, he said. "This is precisely the type of moral cowardice" that led to Trump's rise.

The Nevada Democrat accused Republicans of wanting to have it both ways for too long.

Senator Reid argued that Republicans, with seven years of obstructing President Barack Obama and refusing to reject the more extreme elements of their party, set the stage for Trump. "Republican leaders created the drought conditions," he said. "Trump simply struck the match."

Senator Reid said Republican leaders chose obstruction and "scorched-Earth" tactics even before Obama took office.

"What thrived in the wasteland Republican leaders created? Resentment, hatred," Senator Reid said.

He said that pattern continues, as evidenced by the Republican treatment of Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Republican leaders have said they will not consider any nominee for the high court from Mr Obama.

Republicans also have rejected science and other evidence that supported Democratic policies, such as on climate change and gun violence, he said.

There have been other by-products of Republican actions, said Senator Reid, that have helped kick off "the Donald Trump movement".

Those included, he said, pushing the idea that Obama's presidency was somehow illegitimate, including through the birther movement, which promoted the false story that Obama was born in Kenya.

"And who was the most prominent Republican in the birther movement? Yeah, Donald Trump," said Reid.

Irish Independent

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