Donald Trump "doesn't know a lot about the issues" and needs to "quit making so many unfortunate public utterances," according to fellow Republican and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell, who has been a Kentucky senator for more than 30 years, made the comments in an interview with Bloomberg Politics while he was promoting his autobiography, "The Long Game."
Trump, he said, needs to pick a knowledgeable and experienced politician as his vice presidential running mate, and should stop speaking off the cuff so often, which is how he tends to get in trouble.
“He needs someone highly experienced and very knowledgeable because it's pretty obvious he doesn't know a lot about the issues,” 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.”
Trump is coming off a rough week in which he was widely criticized for his remarks about Gonzalo Curiel, the federal court judge overseeing the Trump University lawsuit. The businessman said Curiel can't be impartial in the case because he's "Mexican." Curiel was born in Indiana to Mexican parents.
The presumptive Republican nominee could avoid putting his foot in his mouth if he used prepared remarks more regularly and used a teleprompter, McConnell said. Staying on message, the senator contended, is key to appearing presidential and to conveying to voters that he's serious about his run for the White House.
McConnell told Bloomberg he underlined those points in person when he was with Trump in the green room at the National Rifle Association convention.
“I said, ‘Hey Donald, you got a script?’ and he pulled it out of his pocket. He said, ‘You know I hate scripts, they're so boring.’ And I said, ‘Put me down in favor of boring. You've demonstrated that you have a lot of Twitter followers and you're good at turning on a big audience. Now you need to demonstrate you have the seriousness of purpose that is required to be president of the United States, and most candidates on frequent occasions use a script.’ So we'll see whether that's something he's capable of doing.”
McConnell's comments were published the same day the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial titled "Trump Can't Wing It Forever."
"Give the man credit: He broke every law of political physics and still won the primary," the Journal's Kimberly Stressel wrote. "He rambled; he barely spent a dime on TV; he skipped entire states; he ignored delegate math; his focus group was himself. An entire generation of political consultants is debating checking in to a psych ward."
But Trump shouldn't take his past success for granted and needs to get serious -- both in his campaign organization and in his comments -- as he competes in the general election, Strassell wrote.
"He continues to operate on the assumption that he will bask in free airtime forever," Strassel wrote, "that the masses will flock to him come November, that he can tweet his way to the Oval Office."