Senator unloads on Trump in defense of 'best friend' Cruz

Sen. Mike Lee, foreground, with Sen. Ted Cruz.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee went on a widely reported rant against Donald Trump, saying the presumptive Republican Party nominee for president had a long way to go to win his heart and mind, not to mention vote.

“I get it,” Lee said, in a telephone call with Newsmax TV host Steve Malzberg. “You want me to endorse Trump. We can get into that if you want. We can get into the fact that he accused my best friend’s father [Sen. Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz] of conspiring to kill JFK. We can go through the fact that he’s made statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant. We can get into the fact that he’s wildly unpopular in my state, in part because my state consists of people who are members of a religious minority church.”

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Lee’s comments came as Malzberg pressed him to explain why he hadn’t yet announced support for Trump, the more-than-likely party pick to face Democratic contender Hillary Clinton this November.

Lee said he wouldn’t turn away from endorsing Trump, but that he first needed to hear the candidate make some better statements on the campaign trail.

“[I’d endorse] if I heard the right things out of him,” Lee said.

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Malzberg, however, said Trump’s remarks – including the ones aimed at discrediting Cruz and Cruz’s father – were small in comparison to Clinton’s faults and scandals.

And Lee’s response?

“Right, right. [But Trump] said that … without any scintilla, without a scintilla of evidence. Now that concerns me,” Lee said, Politico reported. “Again, I hope I can get over this because I can’t vote for Hillary. I know there’s no possibility of that. What I am saying is that Donald Trump can still get a lot of votes from a lot of conservatives like me, but I would like some assurances on where he’s going to stand his ground. I’d like some assurances that he’s going to be a vigorous defender for the U.S. Constitution. I’m sorry, but that is not an unreasonable demand.”

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