Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gave a telling non-answer to a question about his moral boundaries that circulated widely on social media Thursday.
“You are known for playing a ruthless political style. 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 am completely comfortable with the way I have conducted my political career,” he added when Swan pressed again, saying he would be happy to respond to specific examples.
Swan then quoted McConnell’s speech in February 2021 following the second impeachment vote over former President Donald Trump’s role in the deadly riot at the US Capitol.
“You said that Donald Trump’s actions preceding the January 6 insurrection were ‘a disgraceful dereliction of duty’ and that he was ‘practically and morally responsible’ – your words – ‘for bringing about the events of this day,'” Swan told the senator.
“How do you go from saying that to, two weeks later, saying you would absolutely support Donald Trump if he’s the Republican nominee in 2024?”
McConnell said it should come as no surprise that he backs his party’s nominee and feels compelled to do so.
Swan then wondered if there was anything a Republican candidate could do to lose McConnell’s support.
The senator avoided answering, only replying, “I say a lot of things that I’m sure a lot of people don’t understand.”
The exchange drew sharp rebukes from online commentators, many of whom interpreted McConnell’s response as an indicator of his nationwide loyalty to his party.
See more reactions below.