Senate Republican says McConnell in ‘good shape’ after second freeze-up at mic

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said on Sunday that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was in “good shape” when they spoke Saturday afternoon, following the second time in recent weeks that the GOP leader appeared to freeze up while speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Rounds doubled down on his confidence in McConnell’s ability to lead the party in the chamber and underscored a point made by the Capitol physician, attributing the apparent health-related doubts to moments of lightheadedness stemming from a concussion the 81-year-old senator suffered earlier this year. 

“I spoke with Mitch yesterday afternoon. I told him I was going to be doing an interview and I wanted to personally touch base with him before I did that. He was in good shape. He was direct. He said, you know, I had that concussion and he said, they warned me that I would be lightheaded in the future and that I’ve got to be aware of it. He said, it happened twice, he said, it just so happens I’m doing it in front of reporters. But he felt good yesterday,” Rounds said.

“Dr. Monahan, [the Capitol physician], who is also my physician there at the Senate, he’s sharp. He says it exactly the way that it is. And if he says, you know, Mitch is ready to go, then Mitch is ready to go,” Rounds continued. “But Mitch will come back in front of us and he’ll discuss it with the entire team. He’s been busy. He’s been working around his own state, but he’s also been doing the fundraising that is required of a leader and I think that’s been a big job for him as well during this break.”

Asked whether McConnell should be clearer with the American public about his condition, Rounds underscored his confidence in McConnell, saying, “Mitch is sharp and he is shrewd. He understands what needs to be done. I’ll leave it up to him as to how he wants to discuss that with the American public, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he is perfectly capable of continuing on at this stage of the game, and he’s got a good team around hi

Rounds reiterated that there’s “no question” that he’s comfortable with McConnell staying on in his position.

“There’s a lot of folks out there who would like to see him go, but that’s because he is a very capable leader. And he’s one of these kind of guys that if you could take him out of the leadership role and advance, you might end up in a better position if you were a competitor of his,” he said. “But on the Republican side, we all understand that he’s good, he’s good for our party. He sees the long road ahead. He looks a long ways ahead. And when all the rest of us are sitting back, he’s the guy that takes the spears and the arrows so that we don’t have to.”

“So he’s the right guy in the right spot, and at this stage of the game, I think he’ll continue on,” Rounds said. 

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