As Donald Trump heads to Florida this weekend to give a campaign-style rally, Mitch McConnell made one more plea to the Republican president: Try to stay on message.
The Senate majority has been trying for months — unsuccessfully — to convince Trump to adapt McConnell’s own disciplined style. The Kentucky Republican says that Trump’s White House is pursuing many of the policy goals that the Capitol Hill GOP prefers, but that Trump’s style is at odds with McConnell’s own methodical style.
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“Well, I’ve been pretty candid with him and all of you that I’m not a great fan of daily tweets. What I am a fan of is what he’s been actually doing,” McConnell told reporters on Friday before the weeklong Presidents Day recess. “I’ve not been a fan of the extra discussions that he likes to engage in. But we’re going to solider on.”
The canny GOP leader has been directly challenging Trump to change his messaging approach. McConnell this week advised Trump to lay off Twitter and told the Weekly Standard Trump would be “10 to 15 points higher if he allowed himself to stay on message.”
Trump has ignored the advice. On Thursday he gave winding, nearly 80-minute press conference that included false statements about the election and and unrelenting attacks on the “fake news” media. But McConnell is learning to live with it: He said that Trump’s actual policy proposals and staff appointments aren’t that different from what a theoretical President Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio would have pursued.
“I can’t see much difference between what President Trump is doing than what they have done. I think the Cabinet has been truly outstanding: It’s the most conservative Cabinet certainly in the time I’ve been here,” McConnell said. “I like what he’s doing.”