Mitch McConnell heckled at Kentucky event with chants of ‘retire’ after freezing episode

The calls for him to retire come after just over one week after a concerning episode where the 81-year-old froze in the middle of a press conference

Rachel Sharp
Monday 07 August 2023 13:13 BST
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Mitch McConnell booed, heckled and told to 'retire' during Kentucky event

Mitch McConnell was heckled with chants of “retire” as he spoke at an event in Kentucky over the weekend – just days after he sparked concerns for his health with his freezing episode.

The Senate minority leader, 81, was interrupted with loud jeers, boos and shouts of “retire” as he appeared at the 143rd Annual St. Jerome Fancy Farm Picnic in his home state on Saturday.

“My friends, I’ll be honest, it’s not hard for Republicans to look good these days,” Mr McConnell said, while the crowd roared with heckles around him.

“We’re up against the folks that gave you record high inflation, that closed schools...”

The Republican senator tried to ignore the ruckus, while the crowd’s chants escalated and grew ever louder.

Other chants directed at Mr McConnell included “shame on you,” “ditch Mitch” and “lost the Senate”.

The calls for him to retire come just over one week after a concerning episode where the 81-year-old froze in the middle of a press conference.

Mr McConnell was speaking at a Senate Republican briefing back on 26 July, when he suddenly stopped speaking and froze at the podium for several seconds.

He was guided away by his fellow lawmakers before returning a few moments later and answering questions from reporters.

When asked to address what happened, he simply responded: “I’m fine.”

A spokesperson later said that he had simply felt lightheaded.

Mr McConnell has tried to make light of the incident, saying that he was “sandbagged” – a reference to President Joe Biden’s fall on stage at a military graduation in June.

He also vowed to serve out the remainder of his senate term – despite the health episode leading to renewed calls for term limits for US lawmakers.

Mitch McConnell was booed and faced chants to ‘retire’ after freezing episode

The long-running senator had only returned to the Senate in March after another fall which left him with a concussion.

Sources told NBC News that the 81-year-old also suffered a fall while disembarking a plane in early July and that he is now using a wheelchair as a precaution while travelling in crowded places such as airports.

Though not addressing the incident directly, Mr McConnell remained defiant about not standing down from the senate during his appearance at Fancy Farm on Saturday.

“Well, this is my 28th Fancy Farm, and I want to assure you, it’s not my last,” he said.

Meanwhile, the senator also chose not to respond to Mr Trump’s latest attack, after the former president claimed that Democrats must have “got something on Mitch McConnell” for him not to back him in his fight against his growing legal troubles.

“They’ve got something on Mitch McConnell,” he claimed at an event in South Carolina.

“It’s a terrible thing that’s happening with that guy and with the whole…they gotta step up.

“The House is stepping up, they’re working hard and they are stepping up and I think a lot of things are happening but we’ll see.”

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