Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has frozen twice in front of the cameras this summer. But South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds remains fully confident that McConnell is up to the job of representing Kentucky and leading Republicans in the United States Senate:
Dana Bash, CNN: I do want to start with Leader McConnell, that scary moment where we saw — as I mentioned, where we saw him freeze again in public.
You said that you do expect him to be straightforward and level with the Republican Conference when you all get back this coming week. What questions — do you have for him?
Senator Mike Rounds: I spoke with Mitch yesterday afternoon and told him I was going to be doing an interview, and I wanted to personally touch base with him before I did that.
And he was in good shape. He was direct. He said he fell. He said: “I had that concussion.” And he said: “They warned me that I would be lightheaded in the future and that I have got to be aware of it.” He said: “It happened twice.” He said: “It just so happens I’m doing it in front of reporters.”
But he felt good yesterday. He said he’s got to watch his hydration levels.
Dr. Monahan, who is also my physician there at the Senate, he’s sharp. He says it exactly the way that it is. And if he says that Mitch is ready to go, then Mitch is ready to go. But Mitch will come back in front of us, and he will discuss it with the entire team. He’s been busy. He’s been working around his own state.
But he’s also been doing the fund-raising that is required of a leader. And I think that’s been a big job for him as well during this break.
Bash: So — so he told you that it was a result of the concussion that he had. Did he give you any more information? And does he need to be more clear, not just with your conference when you all meet this coming week, but with the American public, particularly his constituents in Kentucky?
Rounds: Mitch is sharp, and he is shrewd. He understands what needs to be done.
I will leave it up to him as to how he wants to discuss that with American public. But there’s no doubt in my mind that he is perfectly capable of continuing on at this stage of the game. And he’s got a good team around him. He’s done a good job of developing that leadership team. They have been supportive of him.
During the time in which he was out of the center for a while, the team did a great job.
Rounds: My seatmate, John Thune here in South Dakota, picked up the reins and worked it well. And he had a great team around him as well.
So I’m not worried about that at all. We have got a good team in place, and Mitch is there, and I think Mitch will be able to answer any questions that may come up.
Bash: So you’re comfortable with him staying on as leader?
Rounds: Oh, yes, no question.
And, look, there’s a lot of folks out there that would like to see him go, but that’s because he is a very capable leader. And he’s one of these kind of guys that, if you could take him out of the leadership role in advance, you might end up in a better position if you were a competitor of his.
But on the Republican side, we all understand that he’s good. He’s good for our party. He sees the long road ahead. He looks a long ways ahead. And when all the rest of us are sitting back, he’s the guy that takes the spears and the arrows, so that we don’t have to.
So, no, he’s the right guy, the right spot.
Rounds: And at this stage of the game, I think he will continue on [CNN: State of the Union, transcript, 2023.09.03].
I’m glad Senator Rounds is willing to take signs of advancing age and incapacity off the table as a discussion point. Octogenarianism is not to be discussed as a disqualifying characteristic for elected officials.