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Despite Trump's Recent Missteps, McConnell Stands By GOP Nominee

Mitch McConnell Fancy Farm 2016
Mitch McConnell at Fancy Farm in 2016.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he still supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, despite the latest firestorm that has erupted over Trump’s most recent remarks about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

McConnell addressed the Middletown Chamber of Commerce Thursday.

Many say Trump encouraged violence this week when he suggested "maybe there is" something supporters of the Second Amendment could do to stop Clinton from choosing Supreme Court justices. Trump's campaign said he was referring to the political weight of the National Rifle Association and gun-rights advocates.

Met with laughter from the crowd, McConnell declined -- tongue-in-cheek -- to respond when asked what he thinks about Trump.

“Here’s what I decided when I got out of bed this morning: I’m going to have a Trump-free day … next question," he said.

McConnell later said he stands by his endorsement of Trump and deflected one questioner’s criticism that he hasn’t been vocal enough in his support of the nominee.

“Believe me, voting for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton is easy for me — easy,” McConnell said.

McConnell also told the group that it will be “dicey” for Republicans to hold onto their Senate majority in the fall elections. The GOP has 54 seats, while Democrats have 44. There are two independents.

"We, meaning we Republicans, have 24 members up," he said. "Our Democratic friends only have 10. So as you can see, we were going to be on defense anyway, regardless of what was going on at the presidential level.”

McConnell said there are competitive races in states like New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Florida and Indiana.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.