Mitch McConnall
Mitch McConnallReuters

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell distanced himself from other Republican lawmakers who have called for the National Guard to be sent in to break up the antisemitic riots and demonstrations that have taken over multiple university campuses throughout the US over the last week and a half.

“What needs to happen, at least at the beginning, is these university presidents need to get control of the situation, allow free speech, and push back against antisemitism,” McConnell told Margaret Brennan on the CBS 'Face the Nation' program.

“I thought that was largely gone in this country, but we’ve seen a number of young people who are actually antisemitic. Why don’t they all sit down and have a civil conversation rather than trying to dominate the talk?” he asked.

According to McConnell, "the first line of defense is these university presidents.”

“Let’s see if these university presidents can get control of the situation” before sending in the National Guard, he said. “They ought to be able to do that. Civil discussion is what college education is supposed to be about. I’d be interested in hearing the antisemitic people explain the justification for that kind of talk.”

House Majority Leader Mike Johnson visited the campus of Columbia University on Wednesday. After his visit, Johnson said, If this is not contained quickly, and if this — these threats and intimidation — are not stopped there is an appropriate time for the National Guard."

Johnson's call to send in the National Guard was echoed by other Republicans, including Senator Ted Cruz, who said, “A responsible president should send in the National Guard to protect Jewish students like Eisenhower did to protect Black students from Democrat segregationists."

Senator Josh Hawley also said, "Send in the National Guard to protect Jewish students."