Sen. Mitch McConnell defends his support for Ukraine aid in Shelby County stop

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told a crowd in Shelbyville the U.S. needs to be a leader of the democratic world, which includes support for Ukraine.

The minority leader said although he's stepping down from his leadership position in November, he still thinks he'll have a big voice in the Senate, which he'll use to continue to push back against isolationism.

"You can quit going to war with them. They're not gonna quit going to war with us," McConnell said.

This message was one of many that McConnell had for the gathering on Wednesday afternoon, where he spoke with members from the Shelby County Farm Bureau and Shelby County Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon.

McConnell, who recently turned 82, is the longest-serving senator in Kentucky history and only the second-ever Kentuckian to be majority leader of the Senate, a post he held from 2015-21.

Sen. Mitch McConnell talked with the Shelby County Farm Bureau and Shelby County Chamber of Commerce in Shelbyville, Ky., on April 3, 2024.
Sen. Mitch McConnell talked with the Shelby County Farm Bureau and Shelby County Chamber of Commerce in Shelbyville, Ky., on April 3, 2024.

While he's stepping down as minority leader in the fall, he plans to finish his term, which ends in 2026.

"I'm certainly not leaving the Senate and still have ... a lot of issues that are before us," McConnell said.

He told a group of reporters that while there's a contest for his leadership position, he doesn't have a preference and thinks whoever will be chosen will be a good successor moving forward.

Looking back at his career, though, McConnell said that the most important decision he made was choosing not to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy when Justice Antonin Scalia died. Because it was an election year, McConnell at the time said voters should get to decide which presidential candidate picks the next justice.

Some compliment McConnell for the impact he’s made for Kentucky, like his work to help secure funding for the construction of a companion to the Brent Spence Bridge linking Northern Kentucky with Cincinnati.

Others criticize for some of his political moves, though, including his recent push to send funds to Ukraine, which is battling Russia.

He’s even received backlash for this from fellow Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who said earlier this year that Gov. Andy Beshear could win McConnell’s seat “if the election took place tomorrow” because he was going against Kentucky’s wishes.

McConnell also has low approval ratings in the commonwealth, which sank to the single digits in December.

But he pushed back on the criticism he's received on Ukraine aid during his speech.

"This war is not taking a single American life," McConnell said. "We're not involved directly anymore. We're trying to help these brave people stand up for their own independence."

McConnell also criticized President Joe Biden's tenure and said it's been the "most left-winged administration" he's seen.

While McConnell said he may like Biden personally, he can't agree with all of his policies and blamed the administration for high inflation and an overregulated economy.

In February, inflation rates rose to 3.2%. The rate has been stuck between 3% and 4% since June, which is above the Federal Reserve's 2% target.

Earlier this week, he stopped at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville and introduced Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala., for her lecture as part of the center’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

McConnell told a group of reporters he thinks Britt has already made an impact, even though she's only a freshman.

"She's very smart and very collegial," McConnell said. "She's already a big star and going to be an even bigger star."

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Mitch McConnell defends support for Ukraine aid in Kentucky stop