Irish Examiner Saturday

McConnell to back Trump if he wins 2024 nomination


- Brian Slodysko

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would “absolutely” support Donald Trump if he secures the Republican nomination in 2024 despite making his blistering attack on the former president only two weeks ago.

The Kentucky Republican told Fox News there was still “a lot to happen between now” and the next presidenti­al election.

“I’ve got at least four members that I think are planning on running for president, plus governors and others,” Mr McConnell said.

“There’s no incumbent. Should be a wide open race.”

But when directly asked if he would support Mr Trump again were he to win the nomination, Mr McConnell responded: “The nominee of the party? Absolutely.”

Mr McConnell’s remarks underscore an awkward balancing act he sought to maintain since Mr Trump lost the election, reflecting the reality that Mr McConnell’s own path back to power in the Senate hinges on enthusiasm from a party base that still ardently supports Mr Trump.

Mr McConnell’s comments precede an annual gathering of conservati­ve activists that this year is expected to showcase Mr Trump’s vice-like hold on the Republican base.

Mr Trump, along with most other leading 2024 presidenti­al prospects, is set to address the Conservati­ve Political Action Conference, which will be held in Orlando this year because of Covid restrictio­ns. Mr McConnell, a regular at the annual conference, will not be on the programme following his condemnati­on of Mr Trump.

Soon after voting to acquit Mr Trump at his second impeachmen­t trial on February 13, Mr McConnell delivered a scalding denunciati­on of Mr Trump from the Senate floor, calling him “morally responsibl­e” for the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

In turn, an angry Mr Trump called Mr McConnell a “dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack”.

The 36-year Senate veteran had an expedient relationsh­ip with Mr Trump while he was in office. He made a habit of saying little about many of Mr Trump’s outrageous comments.

But together they secured key Senate victories, such as the 2017 tax cuts and the confirmati­ons of three Supreme

Court justices and more than 200 other federal judges.

Their relationsh­ip soured after Mr Trump’s denial of his November 3 defeat and relentless efforts to reverse the voters’ verdict with his baseless claims that Democrats fraudulent­ly stole the election.

WILLIAM O’Callaghan has had a front row seat to our shopping habits these past 12 months, as a delivery driver for DPD Ireland. While it’s been mostly clothes and home improvemen­ts parcels we’re ordering, most people are just happy to see a real human face over the course of their day.

“It was fairly daunting at the start of the pandemic. Customers who we knew for a long time were very nervous, but in fairness to the lads above, they put in guidelines for contactles­s deliveries, so there was no handing over of a scanner. The customers then felt at ease, and I felt at ease too. Because at the start, even if you went in someone’s gate, they’d want you to stay out. And I know 99% of my customers.”

While work has always been busy, figures have almost tripled on all routes. And the ability to get people their parcels has been very satisfying.

“People are extremely grateful at the door and very kind. I was inundated with Christmas cards, I’ve been with the company nine years and it was overwhelmi­ng this year. Even during the pandemic, they could give you vouchers for coffee, the acts of kindness were overwhelmi­ng.

“The stand-out moments were when you could actually deliver the parcels, when you could see people’s faces.

“I have delivered bags of kindling for the fire, inflatable swimming pools and the satisfacti­on you’d get hearing: ‘That’ll keep the kids quiet for another week’. Not once did I regret working on the frontline.

“I remember the first one, in March, April and May and the weather was so good, people could do nothing else only do up their houses and gardens. I was delivering a lot of gardening stuff, an awful lot of clothes — tracksuits mostly, because people could only go for walks.”

Given the volume of business, William was dreading Christmas.

“Christmas was actually fine, it’s always our peak, and you’re always geared up — you know you’re going to be under pressure never mind in a pandemic. We were dreading it this year, the way these two guys organised it, Gary Murphy and Ken Duffy, in Little Island, it went off without a hitch, and it was the busiest Christmas we ever had.

“January was still busy, a lot of people were just glad to see someone that month. A lot of people are working from home, they’re delighted to see a face at the door, they might tell you the same story and you say: ‘oh yeah’, as if you didn’t hear it before.

“The loneliest people I saw were people who had to work from home, but 99.9% of them were in good spirits.

“Before the pandemic, I was just delivering parcels to houses, that was it, now I feel that bit more important. Even to be considered a frontline worker, I was delighted, I felt appreciate­d. I find sometimes things like this happen, it does bring out the best in people — that togetherne­ss.”

FOUR months since testing positive for Covid-19, secondary school teacher Patricia Caballero Molina is still living with the aftereffec­ts of the virus every day and believes greater empathy and recognitio­n of “long Covid” is needed.

The 40-year-old, who lives in Myrtlevill­e, Co Cork with husband Eoin McCarthy and daughters Elena and Alma, has had an unlucky run with Covid-19 having picked up the virus in March last year and then again in October.

It was the second bout of Covid that really knocked Ms Caballero Molina, who works as a substitute teacher of Spanish and science at Bandon Grammar School. The source of infection remains a mystery.

“I don’t really know how I got the virus. We didn’t have any outbreaks at our school. There was an outbreak at my daughter’s school so it could have come from there or from shopping or getting petrol.”

Soon after Patricia developed typical Covid symptoms (cough, headache and sore throat) and later tested positive.

Since then the effects of the viral infection have persisted and she has not been able to return to work as she still experience­s memory problems, brain fog, and headaches.

“I don’t think I am over it at all. There are days when I am better and days when I am worse. I’ve not been well since,” she said.

“It has affected my memory and ability to recall things. I find that I can picture what I want to say but cannot express it. I am not driving because I do not trust myself at the moment.”

While she counts herself lucky that she didn’t become seriously ill or hospitalis­ed by the virus, the uncertaint­y surroundin­g long-Covid remains a challenge.

Unable to access a specialist ‘long-Covid’ clinic at Cork University Hospital to date, she said her GP has been very supportive but there is still a lot that doctors do not know about the virus yet.

“They don’t know and we can’t blame them for that. Nobody knows; This is completely new for everyone,” she said.

At the same time, she said that it was not anxiety or depression that she was experienci­ng and that the long-term effects of the virus were real and greater empathy must be shown to patients with long-Covid.

“Believe us. We’re not crazy. We’re not making this up or looking for attention. This is not a holiday. It can be very upsetting,” she said.

Despite the ongoing symptoms, she is hopeful of returning to work in the coming months: “At the moment I don’t feel my body would be able to cope and I’m afraid I might relapse again but I am hoping to go back this academic year.”

She would also like to get the vaccine so that she could visit her family in Madrid, who she hasn’t seen for more than a year. For the moment though the motherof-two is adapting to her new normal of living with long Covid.

“It’s like getting to know a really bad dance partner so at the moment I’m learning how to dance with it.”

■ For more informatio­n on the Long Covid support group see www.covidcases­

 ??  ?? Mitch McConnell has recently been critical of Donald Trump.
Mitch McConnell has recently been critical of Donald Trump.
 ?? Picture: Dan Linehan ?? Delivery driver with DPD Ireland William O’Callaghan pictured on his route in Mitchelsto­wn, Co Cork.
Picture: Dan Linehan Delivery driver with DPD Ireland William O’Callaghan pictured on his route in Mitchelsto­wn, Co Cork.
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