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Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley has suggested her fellow Republican Mitch McConnell – the longtime powerful US Senate leader – should step aside after an episode in which he physically froze and was unable to speak at the Capitol this week.
Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Haley was asked by the host Margaret Brennan whether she still had confidence in McConnell’s ability to lead after the episode.
“I think Mitch McConnell did an amazing job when it comes to our judiciary, when we look at the judges, when we look at the supreme court he’s been a great leader,” said Haley, the former South Carolina governor and ex-United Nations ambassador during the Donald Trump presidency. “But we’ve gotta stop electing people because they look good in a picture and they hold a baby well.”
She also said the 90-year-old US senator Dianne Feinstein, the 80-year-old president Joe Biden, and 83-year-old congresswoman Nancy Pelosi – all of whom are prominent Democrats – should “know when to walk away”.
A spokesperson for Mitch McConnell, 81, said last week that he intends to fulfill his term, which ends in 2026.
He has led the US Senate’s Republican conference since 2007. McConnell’s office said that the senator felt lightheaded but has not released more details on what caused the episode in question.
McConnell was hospitalized after he fell onstage earlier this year, leaving him with a concussion and a fractured rib. He also fell in Finland in February, and earlier this month while getting off a plane at Reagan national airport in Washington D.C.
McConnell survived polio as a child, though the illness has long affected his gait.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein also appeared confused and had to be prompted to vote “aye” in an uncomfortable moment during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Thursday.
The 90-year-old Democrat, who has faced calls to resign due to her health, remained awkwardly silent when it was her turn to cast her vote on the $831.781 billion Defense Appropriations bill.
According to a New York Times report earlier this year, Feinstein relies on staffers to push her wheelchair, remind her how and when she should vote and explain what is happening when she becomes confused.
In polling conducted by YouGov last year, a majority of Americans supported age limits for elected officials but were split over the precise cutoff.
A cap at age 60 would bar 71 percent of the Senate from holding office, while a limit of 70 would render 30 percent ineligible, an analysis by the firm found.