OTR Interviews

McConnell: We've had speed bumps, but party's united

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell goes 'On the Record' on achieving party unity, Trump's controversial NATO comments


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 21, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Donald Trump is now or soon-to-be at the helm of the Republican Party. But he will need to rally the GOP hold offs and get them on board the Trump train.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell goes ON THE RECORD.

Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: OK. So there's some strugglers that haven't gotten on the Trump train.




VAN SUSTEREN: What are you going to do about those?

MCCONNELL: I don't think it makes much difference. I mean, I think, we are a great, big party. It's together. There had been a few speed bumps during the week, but there always are in every convention. I think we are going to have a great, united party going into the general election. People are enthusiastic about the Trump candidacy now, whether they were earlier or not and I'm pretty excited about it all.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I want to talk about the speed bumps in connection with Senator Ted Cruz's speech last night, not endorsing, getting booed. But Donald Trump also made another comment today or yesterday about NATO saying that before he automatically jumps to the defense of a NATO ally, he wants to make sure they have fulfilled their obligation. And that has divided some of the Republicans.

MCCONNELL: Yes, I disagree with that. I think NATO is the most important military alliance in world history. And I want to reassure our NATO allies that if any of them are attacked, we will be there.

VAN SUSTEREN: I imagine that you are paying really close attention to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's VP choice, because built into it is the question about the Senate, right? I mean, if she picks some senators, it may have an impact on whether or not you get an extra senator if you're a Republican governor first.

MCCONNELL: Yes. It could. I mean, if she were to pick Senator Kaine for example from Virginia, I don't know what happens after that. Whether the governor appoints someone, or whether there's a special election. But it could open up another seat for us to compete for.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you've got -- I don't know how Elizabeth Warren up in Massachusetts, Republican governor and Cory Booker has got a Republican governor.

MCCONNELL: My guess is she's not going to pick somebody in a state with a Republican governor. I don't think Hillary Clinton will do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: So are you going to keep the Senate?

MCCONNELL: Yes. It's going to be hard. We had 24 members. Our Democrat friends only had 10. Any many of those 24, six or eight of them are in a very, very competitive races. The good news is they are very, very capable incumbents running great campaigns. We're going to keep the Senate. It's a very tough cycle, but we're going to keep the Senate.

VAN SUSTEREN: And, of course, during our talk the dancing on the floor has started. That has already started. The music and the dancing. That's a good sign, right?

MCCONNELL: Yes, absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: Donald Trump said he is law and order. Is that a big theme this year, do you think, among Republican voters?

MCCONNELL: I think so. When you see what's happening on the streets of America and streets of Europe, whether it's -- whether the terrorist's acts are fomented by domestic terrorists unrelated to do ISIL, or whether it's ISIL inspired, I think people are worried about safety in their own community. And I think they expect the president of the United States to strongly stand up for the men and women in blue and to go after ISIL where they are headquartered over in Iraq and Syria.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you have worked with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton especially when she was in the U.S. Senate and of course as Secretary of State.

What are your thoughts about her in terms of law and order and national security. She's perceived by many as being quite hawkish with her own party.

MCCONNELL: Actually, she's not. She will be the third term for Barack Obama. I think her policies will be very similar to his, both domestically and overseas. Really if people want to change, there is only one vote you can cast this year to get a genuine change from the direction we have been taking the last eight years.

If people are satisfied with where we are in America, they ought to vote for Hillary Clinton. But if they think we can do better by taking a different path, Donald Trump is the candidate.

VAN SUSTEREN: A year ago, would you have guessed that this will be your nominee?

MCCONNELL: I'm sorry?

VAN SUSTEREN: A year ago, would you have guessed Donald Trump was your party's nominee?

MCCONNELL: I wouldn't have guessed it, but look, this is a different kind of year. People wanted an outsider, they got one. A highly-successful businessman and he's picked an experienced insider to be his running mate so I think it's a nice balanced ticket.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the pundits didn't guess that either, didn't expect that either.

Senator, nice to see you. Nice to see you.

MCCONNELL: OK. Good to see you, Greta.