MAYFIELD, Ky. (AP) — U.S. Senate Republican chief Mitch McConnell acquired a rousing welcome from the get together devoted Saturday at a high-profile home-state political gathering amid renewed scrutiny of his well being after the 81-year-old lawmaker froze up midsentence throughout a latest Capitol Hill information convention.
“That is my twenty eighth Fancy Farm, and I wish to guarantee you it’s not my final,” McConnell stated on the prime of his breakfast speech earlier than the annual picnic that’s the conventional leaping off level for the autumn marketing campaign season in Kentucky. It was his solely reference, nevertheless obscure, to his well being.
McConnell, who’s extensively considered the primary architect of the GOP’s rise to energy in Kentucky, arrived to a protracted standing ovation and promoted the candidacy of a protege working for governor this yr.
Later on the Fancy Farm picnic, McConnell made a pitch for the GOP statewide ticket in November, which is led by Daniel Cameron, a former McConnell staffer who’s the get together’s nominee for governor. McConnell slammed Democratic insurance policies from Washington to Kentucky. He bemoaned excessive inflation pinching household budgets and Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s restrictions in the course of the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
McConnell has been an annual fixture on the picnic stage within the tiny group of Fancy Farm, the place he lengthy has relished jousting with Democrats. Democrats within the crowd on Saturday greeted McConnell with cascades of boos and chanted “retire.”
McConnell’s well being has drawn elevated consideration since he briefly left his personal information convention in Washington on July 26 after stopping his remarks midsentence and staring off into area for a number of seconds. GOP colleagues standing behind him grabbed his elbows and escorted him again to his workplace. When he returned to reply questions, McConnell stated he was “superb.” Requested if he’s nonetheless in a position to do his job, he stated, “Yeah.”
McConnell was out of the Senate for nearly six weeks earlier this yr after falling and hitting his head after a dinner occasion at a Washington lodge. He was hospitalized for a number of days, and his workplace later stated he suffered a concussion and fractured a rib. His speech has sounded extra halting in latest weeks, prompting questions amongst a few of his colleagues about his well being.
He has stated he plans to serve his full term as Republican leader — he was elected to a two-year time period in January and could be up for reelection to that put up once more after the 2024 elections. McConnell was first elected to the Senate in 1984 and has been the Republican chief since 2007. He would face reelection to the Senate in 2026.
On the breakfast occasion Saturday, McConnell didn’t delve into nationwide points or touch upon former President Donald Trump’s authorized entanglements, and he didn’t meet with reporters afterward. In his nine-minute speech. McConnell accused Democrats of getting “turned their backs on rural America.”
McConnell additionally praised Cameron, the state’s legal professional basic who’s difficult Beshear in one of many nation’s most carefully watched elections this yr. McConnell stated he first met Cameron when Cameron was a scholar on the College of Louisville. Cameron went on to serve on McConnell’s workers as authorized counsel.
“I’ve watched him through the years,” McConnell stated. “And now you’ve gotten. And also you’ve seen his management expertise, his capacity to rally individuals collectively.”
A rift between Trump and McConnell has reverberated in Kentucky, the place each males are prolific vote-getters. The break up grew after the senator publicly refuted Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, ending an uneasy partnership that had helped conservatives set up a agency majority on the Supreme Courtroom.
McConnell has been principally silent since then and has been loath to touch upon any of the indictments of Trump this yr. The 2 have discovered widespread trigger once more within the candidacy of Cameron, who was the beneficiary of Trump’s endorsement in the course of the hard-fought Republican major for governor.