Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said Sunday that Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell is “perfectly capable” of carrying out his leadership position after he froze in public for the second time in as many months.
“There’s a lot of folks out there who would like to see him go, but that’s because he’s a very capable leader. He’s one of these kind of guys that if you can take him out of the leadership role in advance, you might end up in a better position if you were a competitor of his,” Rounds told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union,” adding that “on the Republican side, we all understand that he’s good, he’s good for our party.”
“At this stage of the game, I think he’ll continue on,” Rounds said.
The vote of confidence comes as McConnell moves behind the scenes to reassure his allies and donors he can do his job – even as questions persist over how long the 81-year-old Kentuckian will stay on as Republican leader.
McConnell appeared to freeze for about 30 seconds last week while speaking with reporters after a speech in Covington, Kentucky. The incident was similar to an episode McConnell experienced at the US Capitol in July.
After the second freeze-up, Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending doctor for the Capitol, said in a statement released through McConnell’s office that the GOP leader is cleared to continue his schedule.
“I have consulted with Leader McConnell and conferred with his neurology team. After evaluating yesterday’s incident, I have informed Leader McConnell that he is medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned,” the statement said.
“Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration,” added Monahan.
CNN contributor Scott Jennings, a longtime McConnell ally, said on “State of the Union” later Sunday he “watched football with (McConnell) Friday, he’s having a perfectly fine weekend, and looking forward to getting back to Washington.”
Still, the last freeze-up occurred right before senators left for a five-week August recess. Some at the time wanted more information about McConnell’s health, and such questions are bound to intensify next week when they return to session.
“Mitch is sharp, and he is shrewd. He understands what needs to be done,” Rounds said Sunday.
“I will leave it up to him as to how he wants to discuss that with 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 him. He’s done a good job of developing that leadership team. They have been supportive of him.”