U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell during a press conference Thursday at the CVG Centre (Photo: By Randy Tucker/ Enquirer Media)
HEBRON, Ky. — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Thursday said he hasn’t visited the White House in two months because of what he saw as lax coronavirus practices.
“My impression was their approach to how to handle this (pandemic) was different from mine and what I insisted we do in the Senate, which was to wear a mask and practice social distancing,” McConnell said during an appearance in Northern Kentucky.
McConnell also shrugged off President Donald Trump’s vow not to participate in next week’s presidential debate if it was held virtually.
“I don’t have any particular reaction to it,’ McConnell said, during a press conference at Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport’s corporate offices. “It’s really up to him to decide whether it’s to his advantage or not to his advantage to participate.”
McConnell visited the CVG Centre just a few hours after President Trump said he would skip the debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden after organizers said it would be held virtually because of the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump told FOX Business anchor Maria Bartiromo, moments after the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced the changes.
The commission made the decision unilaterally, citing the need “to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate.”
McConnell said he maintains regular phone contact with Trump and that the president “seems perfectly fine.”
But McConnell said he doesn’t have first-hand knowledge of the president’s health condition because he hasn’t visited the White House since Aug. 6. McConnell was not at the Sept. 26 event in the Rose Garden announcing Trump’s Supreme Court nominee – which may have become a “superspreader” event.
Among attendees testing positive are Trump and first lady Melania Trump; former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; former counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah; Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins; pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie; and freelance photographer Al Drago.
McConnell held the press conference to discuss the impact of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in Kentucky, but said Democrats and Republicans were still far apart on agreeing to another round of economic stimulus.
“We have vast differences about how much we should spend,” McConnell said, while acknowledging the need for more stimulus.
McConnell was an early champion of the CARES Act, which has distributed $13 billion across the state of Kentucky, including $186 million in Northern Kentucky, according to a press release from his campaign.
CVG has received nearly $95 million in federal support, including over $52 million from the CARES Act.
The Associated Press and USA TODAY contributed to this report
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