GOP strategist cornered for defending Kevin McCarthy's non-criticism of Trump's neo-Nazi dinner
Kevin McCarthy on Facebook

On Tuesday's edition of CNN's "OutFront," longtime Republican strategist Mike Shields was cornered by anchor Kate Bolduan and fellow commentator Ashley Allison after he tried to defend House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for his statement on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago meeting with neo-Nazi livestreamer Nick Fuentes.

"You advised Kevin McCarthy, you know him well," said Bolduan. "What is McCarthy doing here with that statement today? He knew he was likely going to be asked. He did not outright condemn what Trump did."

"Yes, he did," said Shields. "I mean, he flat-out condemned it and said no one should be meeting with Fuentes ... I don't know how much stronger you can get standing at the White House for the incoming Speaker-elect to make a statement on this."

"You could go the route of Mike Pence actually, and that would be stronger, and everyone kind of agrees that it would be stronger," said Bolduan. "You could go the route of Mitt Romney, who called it 'disgusting' or just say what Mike Pence said. He thinks [Trump] should apologize, he should denounce those individuals. He said it showed very poor judgment. He could go that route."

"So you're going to sort of split hairs on how strongly someone condemns something. If they're condemning it, they're condemning it, they're saying it was wrong," said Shields. "Kevin McCarthy is the incoming Speaker-elect ... he's not going to get into presidential politics." He then said McCarthy will remove "anti-Semitic" Democrats from committees and "has a very strong record on this."

Allison, a former Democratic strategist, objected to Shields' characterization.

"'Splitting hairs' on condemning anti-Semitism?" said Allison. "You can be as strong as you want and you can say it over and over and over again, and that's what true leaders do. You should say to Donald Trump, you should not meet with him, whether you knew who it was or not, there are so many more ways that Kevin McCarthy could be a stronger leader and condemn these actions. I don't expect him to do that because he is playing the game of politics for himself. He barely is going to be the Speaker of the House, and he wants to keep that. And he wants to play both sides ... I'm not going to laud Kevin McCarthy tonight or any time in the near future as a hero because he said, oh, Donald Trump didn't know who Fuentes was. But there's no space for that in the Republican Party. Say more, do more, be a leader."

Watch below:

Mike Shields and Ashley Allison on Kevin McCarthy