‘Not my favorite issue,’ age will be on voters’ minds as they pick a president, says McConnell

Republished from Kentucky Lantern

LOUISVILLE — U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told a group of Louisville business leaders that no matter who wins the 2024 presidential election, the country’s allies must “know that America is strong.” 

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell speaks during a Greater Louisville Inc. luncheon. (Kentucky Lantern photo by McKenna Horsley)

McConnell, Kentucky’s senior senator, spoke about domestic and international politics, including his thoughts on the U.S. election and his continued support for Ukraine against Russia at a Capitol Connection luncheon hosted by Greater Louisville Inc., the local chamber of commerce. 

Democratic President Joe Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump are set for their first 2024 debate Thursday. McConnell remarked that it will “be interesting to see.” 

The senator, who endorsed Trump after he swept Super Tuesday primaries in March, repeated his frequent criticisms of the Biden administration, including federal spending to support the economy after the coronavirus pandemic that McConnell says fueled inflation and policies at the U.S.-Mexico border. Those “unenforced errors” could be the reason Biden loses in November, McConnell said. 

“The other problem the president has — something I’m familiar with — is how old he is.” 

McConnell’s age — he’s 82 — and health became concerns last year after he suffered a concussion in a fall and twice appeared to freeze up in front of reporters, including once in Northern Kentucky

Some voters have expressed skepticism about the presidential candidates’ fitness for office based on their ages.  Biden is 81; Trump is 78. “As you can imagine, it’s not my favorite issue,” McConnell said. “But the two candidates are almost the same age, so it’s going to be really interesting to see how they play off each other.”

Heading into the debate, McConnell said Trump is “very confident” as he holds political rallies while Biden is preparing at Camp David. McConnell and Biden served in the U.S. Senate together for about 25 years. 

“I know Joe Biden pretty well,” McConnell said. “He’s a good guy. I like him personally. I never thought he was a moderate in the Senate.” 

McConnell added that Biden “pretty much signed up with the far-left of the Democratic Party” after becoming president. 

The senator  opened his remarks by briefly talking about bipartisanship in Washington, D.C., particularly the support for transportation funding that will build a Brent Spence companion bridge across the Ohio River and improve the Interstates 71-75 corridor connecting Northern Kentucky with Cincinnati. McConnell and Biden attended a ceremony celebrating the funding in January 2023 with Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. 

Pivoting to international politics, McConnell quoted former Republican President Ronald Reagan’s motto, “Peace through strength,” like he has in other recent Kentucky stops. McConnell reiterated that the U.S. must keep its adversaries at bay through building up its defense and admonished the Biden administration for not raising its defense budget requests of Congress “enough to even keep up with inflation.” 

“That won’t get the job done,” McConnell said. “The only way to deal with the Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians and the rest is to be strong. That’s the greatest deterrent, is to be strong. That’s what we learned from Ronald Reagan. It was true then. It will be true now.

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to a crowd attending a Greater Louisville Inc. luncheon. (Kentucky Lantern photo by McKenna Horsley)

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