FULL INTERVIEW: One-on-one with Sen. Mitch McConnell
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - In a one-on-one interview with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, 13 News questioned him about a number of timely topics from the president’s condition, to the virus outbreak among republicans, Amy Coney Barrett, mail-in voting, CARES Act.
Q: CARES Act Money has surpassed $13 Billion in Kentucky. How has that money been dispersed - specifically in Warren County?
A: “Yeah, the money continues to flow out of the cares act that we passed back in the spring. Overall, that and a couple of companion pieces amounted to $3 trillion. Warren County’s done particularly well. $62 million has come into Warren County, much of it for health care providers. And of course, Kentuckians have taken great advantage of the PPP small loan program. Over 50,000 Kentucky businesses have access over $5 billion and forgivable loans. In other words, if you maintain your employment, you don’t have to pay it back. So it helped lift and prop up our economy and to keep it from being much worse than it is because of the coronavirus. We’ve also upped unemployment insurance for those who’ve been left behind and had been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.”
Q: When was the last time you talked to the president? How was he doing?
A: “Yeah, I talked to him just about an hour ago, and he’s back in the White House, as everyone knows. We had an entire conversation about business. His physical condition didn’t come up, and he seemed to me to be perfectly normal and fully engaged. And so, we’re really grateful that he’s working his way through this, and like a whole lot of other Americans and looking like he’s going to have a complete recovery.”
Q: Is Trump setting a good example as someone who is impacted by the virus? Do you agree with his philosophy of not letting it take over your life?
A: “Well, even Dr. Fauci has said, we can’t shut the economy down again-- we have to learn to deliver the virus until we get a vaccine, which is why I always preach and have been since May, wear a mask, practice social distancing-- it’s the single best thing we can do to prevent the spread. Because the economic calamity created by shutting everything down, created a whole different set of problems. So I think we all agree we’re not going to shut the economy down again. And we all agree the Coronavirus is not going to go away until we get a vaccine. And the vaccine is being worked on intensely, sort of like the Manhattan Project during World War Two-- to get the atomic bomb, so we could avoid having to invade Japan. I think we’re going to see one or more vaccines prove out by late this year, early next year. But even then, it’s going to require a massive number of doses to administer that vaccine, not only for our country, but for the rest of the world. So we’ve got to be careful here and continue to work our way through it. We’ve had a surge in Kentucky that apparently we’re worse shape now that we’re back in the spring. So that proves to everybody. This has not gone away.”
Q: Do you think President Trump should have taken his mask off on his balcony at the White House after returning from the hospital?
A: “Well, I’m not the President’s advisor. What I can do is speak for myself, and I do think wearing a mask is critically important. I’ve tried to be a good example myself going back to May. We’ve been operating in the Senate since May, following CDC guidelines, wearing masks practicing social distancing. And in fact, they only incidences we’ve had in the Senate of by and large been a result of an event somewhere else not here in the Capitol.”
Q: Will this outbreak of the virus among republican leaders impact Amy Coney Barrett’s ‘speedy confirmation-- in terms of a passing a speedy confirmation?
A: “No, we know how to operate safely. Look, if somebody becomes infected at the fire department, you don’t shut the fire department down. The Senate is an essential workplace. Now we can work our way through this. We have several members in quarantine at the moment. But we’re not in the session right now. We will be again on the 19th. And I’m confident, we can work our way through both the hearings in committee and the votes subsequently on the Floor and still keep everyone safe.”
Q: Have you spoken with the president about his comments about mail in voting? Do you think his comments will hurt his votes from mail-in ballots?
A: “Well, I think each state decides how to conduct the elections. And in Kentucky, which is immediately of interest to all of us, the Democratic Governor and the Republican Secretary of State have reached an agreement. We are going to have more mail-in votes than we normally have because of the Coronavirus. But I’m confident that we can conduct a successful election whether Kentuckians choose to vote by mail or to vote early before election day, or to vote on election day. It does appear that Republicans by and large across the country prefer to vote in-person. And democrats seem to be more interested in voting by mail. So, in Kentucky I think we’ll have a bit of a partisan split, if you will, on how they choose to vote. But regardless of how people choose to vote in Kentucky, I think the election will be conducted well. And we don’t have any reason to doubt that the outcome would be legitimate.”
Q: What is the status of another coronavirus relief package? Will anything happen before the election?
A: No, I would rather have another rescue package, but it’s slowed down. The conversations have seemed to going on endlessly the last couple of months leading me to believe that the proximity of the election has largely dissipated the goodwill and bipartisanship that we had back in the spring, when we passed the CARES Act without a single dissenting vote-- I think that’s kind of eroded as we’ve gotten closer to the election. I would like to see another package but not these two and a half to three trillion dollar sort of liberal wishlist that the Speaker keeps producing over the house..."
"Yeah, I think it’ll continue. The Coronavirus is not not a respecter of the election. It’ll still be here after the election. I think the talks will be ongoing. I’d like to see another package whether that will come together before after the election. I really couldn’t tell you.”
Q: Political parties aside-- do you think Amy Coney Barrett is a fair and good choice for the Supreme Court nominee?
A: “I think he’s picked the single best person he could have picked anywhere in the country. This is a woman of extraordinary achievement. In her personal life, she’s got seven children, two of them adopted, one special needs. She and her husband are both professionals. And just how they organized that big family is amazing to me. In addition to that, the Notre Dame law professor who was there when she was a student said she was the single best student he ever had. The president picked the stellar nominee, I expect her to get a unanimous well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association. Couldn’t have picked a better nomination. She will be confirmed to be on the court in the near future.”
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