Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged his party’s presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Tuesday to discourage violence at his political events, no matter who is responsible.
McConnell’s appeal came during a morning phone call Trump placed to the Republican leader to “check in,” according to an aide to the senator.
“I took the opportunity to recommend to him that no matter who may be triggering these violent expressions or conflicts that we’ve seen in some of these rallies it might be a good idea to condemn that and discourage it no matter what the source of it is,” McConnell said at a news conference.
Violence and arrests at Trump’s events have escalated in recent weeks as the number of anti-Trump protesters showing up at his events has grown leading to clashes with Trump supporters.
McConnell’s discussion with Trump came about an hour before President Barack Obama spoke out against the “vicious” politics of this campaign cycle that have been marked by “vulgar and divisive” words and actions. Obama made those comments at a St. Patrick’s Day event in the Capitol that was also attended by House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
On Monday, Ryan told a Wisconsin outlet that violence at Trump’s rallies was “very concerning” and that candidates “need to take responsibility for the environment at their rallies.”
The twin admonitions by the top two Republican leaders in the Capitol is as unusual as the Trump-dominated campaign season.
“That’s really big isn’t it?” scoffed Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid when told about McConnell’s message to Trump. “I mean, why didn’t they start worrying about this when they helped create the problem we have with the man himself?”
Reid did credit McConnell for announcing publicly what he told Trump.