Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) speech at the annual Fancy Farm picnic in Kentucky over the weekend was met with heckles and jeers from the crowd, who chanted that he should “retire” and nearly drowned out his remarks.
McConnell, who is 81, made his 28th appearance at the event, which also featured Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and his challenger, Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R).
The partisan atmosphere surrounding the competitive gubernatorial race spilled into McConnell’s speech, as members of the audience tried to disrupt his comments immediately after the senior senator took his place behind the microphone.
“Elaine and I are really excited to be back at Fancy Farm on behalf of the strongest Republican team we’ve ever run in our state,” McConnell declared in the Saturday speech, receiving a crescendo of boos from the audience, which included many Democrats. McConnell attended the event with his wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
The crowd then loudly began chanting “retire!” as McConnell peppered his speech with shots at Beshear and other Democrats.
“We’re up against the folks who gave you record-high inflation, we’re up against the folks who closed schools and then told you that teachers’ unions know what’s best for your kids, we’re up against folks who’d rather let repeat offenders walk free than get tough on crime,” McConnell said, prompting boos and the crowd to chant “retire!”
The crowd also chanted “Lost the Senate!” — referring to the Republicans’ loss of the Senate majority after the 2020 election — and “Shame on You!”
McConnell knocked Beshear for not regularly attending the picnic, telling the crowd: “Andy only seems to makes time for you all when he’s staring down Election Day.”
The video clip of McConnell plowing his way through his prepared remarks as the crowd loudly called on him to step down from office circulated widely on social media and even prompted a jab from former President Trump, who hasn’t spoken to the Senate GOP leader since December of 2020.
“I AGREE!” Trump wrote in a post on his Truth Social social media platform. “BOOOOO — RETIRE, RETIRE, RETIRE — BOOOOOO!!!”
McConnell appeared unfazed by the chants and boos and, with his arm around his wife, waved to the crowd with a tight-lipped smile at the end of his remarks.
A Senate Republican aide said raucous cheers and political haymakers are standard fare at Fancy Farm.
McConnell’s future as Senate Republican leader has become a topic of growing interest and speculation after he suffered an episode of lightheadedness during a press conference on Capitol Hill last month.
He froze midway through his opening remarks at the press conference and had to step away from the podium to recover in his office down the hallway before returning to answer reporters questions.
McConnell later insisted, “I’m fine,” and declined to discuss his health in detail.
After that awkward moment in front of television cameras, NBC News and CBS News reported that McConnell had previously suffered two unreported falls, one on July 14 while disembarking from a plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and the other during an official trip to Helsinki in February.