Listen To The Full Interview Below:
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joined the Guy Benson Show to react to President Biden’s state of the union speech, the Russia-Ukraine War, and meeting Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Capitol Hill.
Senator McConnell said he asked Judge Jackson her position on court-packing, but didn’t receive an answer saying,
“I did emphasize to her. I thought it was one thing she could safely address and people would welcome hearing. And that’s the same thing that Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer said about court-packing. Both of whom made it clear that it was a bad idea and was an attack on the integrity of the court and its independence. I didn’t get an answer to that, but I’m sure she’ll be asked that again in her hearings before the Judiciary Committee.”
GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS RADIO HOST: Well, joining us now is Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky.
Senator, it’s great to have you on the show. Welcome back.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Sure. Glad to be with you, Guy.
BENSON: Just your overall thoughts, you were in the chamber, of course, last night. The cameras were fixed on you a couple times. What were your initial reactions? You’ve now had, you know, almost a day to digest it a bit more. Your takeaways from the president last night?
MCCONNELL: On Ukraine, I think the tone was a little too self-congratulatory. I think we all know the inspiration is being provided by the courageous Ukrainian people and their incredible leader who are literally inspiring the rest of the world with their bravery and have produced, you know, clearly the total different reaction from NATO that — that Putin predicted.
I mean, who would have ever thought the Germans — I mean, even in a coalition that includes the Green Party, would completely reverse their policies over the last few decades not only on energy but also on the exportation of weapons directly to Ukraine, doubling their defense budget and saying they’re going to get to 2 percent of GDP as rapidly as possible. Who would have ever thought Finland and Sweden would be saying maybe we need to get in NATO? I think from a — from a NATO perspective, Putin has produced more unity and resolve than any of the previous administrations I can think of regardless of party.
BENSON: So that was the opening portion of the president’s speech on Ukraine and Russia. A lot of unity in the room, if a bit too self-congratulatory, to use your phrase. He then moved on to the rest of the speech that just kind of felt like a hodgepodge to me, where he was jumping from one topic to another pretty quickly, not a lot of transitions. And it didn’t feel fresh, or trying to turn over a new leaf, or turn the page on what has been a very tough first year for him as president. It was a lot of — more of the same. It felt like he was giving us maybe a little bit of a reminder tour of the greatest hits that weren’t able to pass Congress. Saying, well, why don’t you go pass the Democratic takeover of our elections and pass big elements of Build Back Better? I wonder what you think of that, given that that’s certainly not new and it seems almost quixotic given what’s already happened in recent months.
MCCONNELL: Yes, you know what I was thinking as I sat there and listened to that, Guy, was how Bill Clinton reacted when he got his butt handed to him in the ’94 election. This — the next State of the Union message started off by saying, incredibly, “The era of big government is over.” That’s my definition of a pivot. You know, Biden ran as a moderate. But he’s not been a moderate. And so and the — it was more of the same. The same old stuff they tried to pass last year they’re still advocating, nothing new there whatsoever. I think it was a lost opportunity for him to indicate he maybe heard the voices of the American people. They have been expressed, they were expressed in Virginia and in New Jersey. But I think the message was we’ll stay the course.
BENSON: By the way, speaking of Virginia there’s a new poll out this week of Virginia voters. And Glen Youngkin compared to President Biden has a net 22-point popularity advantage over President Biden in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He’s plus nine, the governor is, and the president is minus 12 on job approvals. So — and that’s in a blue state. So that helps sort of paint the picture of the national environment that this president is dealing with, that his party is dealing with. Last question on the State of the Union last night, Senator, it’s a two-parter. There’s been a fair amount of media attention to the backbencher House of Representatives member on the Republican side who, at one point, heckled the president about American deaths in Afghanistan. In your view, is that an appropriate thing to do, A? And then, B, what do you think of the president and his team’s decision not to even mention Afghanistan at all in those remarks which spanned 70 minutes?
MCCONNELL: Well, I guess the reason they didn’t want to mention Afghanistan is it was a debacle. I believe, Guy, that had we not precipitously abandoned Afghanistan, Vladimir Putin wouldn’t have gone into Ukraine. It was the perception of American withdrawal and weakness that emboldened thugs like Putin. But I’m not surprised that Joe Biden didn’t mention Afghanistan. It was, I think, a low point in an otherwise pretty botched up performance all year long.
BENSON: Any comment on the outburst from the Republican Congresswoman?
MCCONNELL: Look, I think civil behavior is a good idea in Congress. We act that way in the Senate. I don’t normally give the House advice. But it seems to me, a respectful response to the State of the Union would be the norm.
BENSON: Earlier today you had an opportunity to meet face-to-face with the new Supreme Court nominee from President Biden, Judge Brown Jackson of the D.C. Circuit, a highly anticipated meeting because of your position, of course, in the Senate, and it’s always all eyes on a Supreme Court vacancy. To the extent that you’re able to talk to us about your perceptions of the nominee, how that meeting went, we’d be very curious to hear.
MCCONNELL: Well, these nominees don’t say much. They’ve all been schooled going back to Ruth Bader Ginsburg not to really answer much of anything. But I think she’s an intelligent — very likely a progressive. The Senate Republican Minority intends to treat the nominee respectfully. I’m not at all interested, for example, in what somebody may have written in her high school yearbook. I did emphasize to her I thought it was one thing she could simply address, and people would welcome hearing, and that’s the same thing that Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer said about court-packing, both of whom made it clear that was a bad idea and was attacked — an attack on the integrity of the — of the — of the court and its independence. I didn’t get an answer to that. But I’m sure she would be asked that again in her hearings before the Judiciary Committee.
BENSON: Setting aside her worldview, and I think if she makes it to the court, I think it’s likely that she’ll be confirmed given the math and the dynamics. I — I’ll probably end up disagreeing with much of her jurisprudence and her rulings over the course of her time on the court. But setting that aside, do you think at least in terms of her C.V. is she qualified for the U.S. Supreme Court?
MCCONNELL: Yes, yes. No question about that.
BENSON: Last question, Senator McConnell. There has been some reporting in D.C. about some backroom drama within the Senate Republican Conference over the NRSC Chairman this cycle, Rick Scott from Florida, putting out, sort of, an agenda that largely is popular with the American people. But there is one tax provision that would give Democrats an opening to attack Republicans. And there are reports that you have been critical of including that in this public agenda that he put out there and that there’s perhaps a bit of disagreement happening behind the scenes. I think Republican and conservative voters, who might like you and Senator Scott, without making it personal at all, they just feel like the Republican Party needs to not blow it this cycle. And there’s a huge opportunity to win and maybe even win big in the midterm elections. Can they be confident that this type of skirmish will be resolved relatively quickly, and the party is going to be focused and united heading into November?
MCCONNELL: Well, yes. I think so. I think it’s important to remember that this election is going to be a referendum on the performance of this entirely Democratic government. And it’s also important to the extent that we begin to talk about what a new Senate Republican majority would do, to make it clear that we’re not going to raise taxes and to make it clear that we’re not going to sunset Social Security and Medicare in five years. Not only would that be a disastrous government policy, it would lead to having it fall — be a referendum on us rather than them.
BENSON: And if it’s just a referendum on them, based on some of the polling data that I just referenced a few minutes ago, I think it’d be, perhaps, a very rough night ahead for the Democratic Party in November. You predicted last time we spoke that Republicans are in the driver’s seat, House and Senate, for November. We’ll revisit that in the weeks and months to come as we have you back. Senator McConnell, always appreciate it. Thank you so much.
MCCONNELL: Thank you, Guy.
BENSON: And we’ll be right back after this.