Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gave a telling nonanswer to a question about his moral boundaries that circulated widely on social media Thursday.
“You are known for playing a ruthless style of politics. Where do you draw your moral red lines?” Axios’ Jonathan Swan asked the Kentucky Republican in an interview.
McConnell joked that “my wife thinks I’m a really nice guy” and then said he was “shocked to hear such a comment.”
“I’m perfectly comfortable with the way I’ve conducted my political career,” he added when Swan pressed again, saying he’d be happy to respond to specific examples.
Swan then cited McConnell’s speech in February 2021 following the second impeachment vote over former President Donald Trump’s role in the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.
“You said Donald Trump’s actions preceding the Jan. 6 insurrection were ‘a disgraceful dereliction of duty’ and that he was ‘practically and morally responsible’ ― your words ― ‘for provoking the events of that day,’” Swan told the senator.
“How do you go from saying that to, two weeks later, saying you’d absolutely support Donald Trump if he’s the Republican nominee in 2024?”
McConnell said it should not be surprising that he would support the nominee of his party and that he feels an obligation to do so.
Swan then wondered if there was anything a Republican nominee could do to lose McConnell’s support.
The senator avoided answering, responding only: “I say many things I’m sure many people don’t understand.”
The exchange drew sharp rebukes from commentators online, many of whom interpreted McConnell’s response as an indicator of his fealty to his party over the country.
See more of the reactions below.
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