The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, would not rule out the possibility of rescinding his endorsement of Donald J. Trump’s presidential bid down the road, and he described the candidate as lacking knowledge in a number of areas in an interview released on Friday.
The comments f-rom Mr. McConnell, in an interview with the “Masters in Politics” podcast on Bloomberg Politics, came as Republicans down the ballot continue to face questions about Mr. Trump’s criticism of the Indiana-born federal judge overseeing a case against Trump University as “Mexican.” Mr. McConnell has been pointed in his criticism of those remarks.
It was the first time, though, that Mr. McConnell offered anything less than an ironclad response of sticking with Mr. Trump, despite the numerous controversies that the presumptive Republican nominee has instigated.
Asked if there was a line that Mr. Trump could cross that would prompt Mr. McConnell to rescind his endorsement, Mr. McConnell demurred.
“I’m not going to speculate about what he might say or what I might do,” said the senator f-rom Kentucky. “But I think it’s pretty clear. I’ve been very clear publicly about how I think he ought to change directions, and I hope that’s what we’re going to see.”
This week, Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the Senate, withdrew his endorsement of Mr. Trump over the remarks about Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel. Senator Lindsey Graham, who has not endorsed Mr. Trump, urged other Republicans to follow Mr. Kirk’s lead.
At another point, Mr. McConnell said that he was “comfortable” with supporting Mr. Trump at the moment, suggesting that the candidate would face checks and balances that could curtail him should he get elected.
“For all of his obvious shortcomings, Donald Trump is certainly a different direction, and I think if he is in the White House he’ll have to respond to the right-of-center world which elected him, and the things that we believe in,” Mr. McConnell said. “So I’m comfortable supporting him.”
But he condemned Mr. Trump’s lack of preparedness, and said that he will need to factor that into his choice of running mate.
“He needs someone highly experienced and very knowledgeable because it’s pretty obvious he doesn’t know a lot about the issues,” Mr. McConnell said. “You see that in the debates in which he’s participated. It’s why I have argued to him publicly and privately that he ought to use a script more often — there is nothing wrong with having prepared texts.”