Light Wave


‘Ditch Mitch!’ - Kentucky Crowd Demands McConnell’s Retirement

By Jake Beardslee · August 7, 2023

In brief…

  • Mitch McConnell was drowned out by angry "Retire!" chants during a Saturday speech in Kentucky, his home state.
  • The hostile crowd comes after recent health concerns over the 81-year-old McConnell.
  • Last week, the powerful senate Republican froze up at a press conference.
  • McConnell said Saturday's event would not be his last, despite the sour crowd.
81-year-old Sen. Mitch McConnell faces calls to retire following receent health incidents.  Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was met with an angry chorus of “Retire!” and other jeers during a Saturday speech in Kentucky, his home state. The 81-year-old Republican lawmaker was speaking at the Fancy Farm picnic, one of the state’s premier political events, when the crowd turned hostile.

McConnell received some positive cheers at first, which were soon drowned out by loud chants of “Shame on you,” “Ditch Mitch,” and “Lost the Senate.” He continued with his speech, saying, “This is my 28th Fancy Farm. And I want to assure you it’s not my last.”

The downbeat reception comes after recent health concerns for McConnell. Last week, he froze up during a press conference, staring straight ahead silently for about 30 seconds before being led away by colleagues. An aide said he was “lighthearted and stepped away for a moment.” Republican Senator Ted Budd separately told the New York Post McConnell slipped and fell during a February trip to Finland, though conditions were icy.

A McConnell aide said the senator now uses a wheelchair as a “precautionary” measure in crowded areas. The recent health incidents have fueled doubts about his ability to continue serving in the senate, although McConnell did not address those concerns directly in his Kentucky speech.

The crowd’s anger may also reflect political tensions. Earlier Saturday, speaking at the South Carolina Republican Party’s 56th Annual Silver Elephant Gala, former President Donald Trump described McConnell as “perhaps the worst leader in the history of our country running the Senate.”

Despite the belligerent crowd, McConnell continued his speech Saturday. Video shows him barely audible over chants of “Retire!”

The minority leader remains determined to keep his powerful post.