Heard on the Hill

Take Five: Mitch McConnell

Senate majority leader ponders inviting president to the Kentucky Derby

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he might think about inviting President Donald Trump to the Kentucky Derby, even though it would be hard to make it “great again” because it’s already great. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

By ALEX GANGITANO, NIELS LESNIEWSKI and BRIDGET BOWMAN

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky talked to Roll Call’s Senate reporters about college basketball, owning a baseball team, and life with his wife, newly sworn-in Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

Q: If you could have any other job, what would it be?

A: I think I’d like to be an owner of a Major League Baseball team. I don’t think the Nats are for sale, but you know, I’ve watched the difference a great owner makes. And I think the Lerner family has done a spectacular job of … hiring the right people, evaluating the talent through those people, and still not spending like the Yankees.

[Take Five: Charles E. Schumer]

Q: You were student body president in high school. What about that role made you want to keep pursuing politics?

A: I don’t know. If I’d have lost, maybe I’d have gone a different direction. But being involved in politics in school, which I was in college and law school as well, got me interested in trying to do what I ended up doing. And then I was a summer intern for [Republican Sen. John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky] one year during college and one thing led to another.

McConnell introduces his wife, Elaine L. Chao, during her Transportation secretary confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee on Jan. 11. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
McConnell introduces his wife, Elaine L. Chao, during her Transportation secretary confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee on Jan. 11. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Q: How will your home life change once your wife, Elaine Chao, becomes a member of the Cabinet again? (Note: Chao was confirmed Tuesday, after this interview.)A: Well, I always laughingly said what Elaine made for dinner was reservations. I think that’s not likely to change. I think the only big difference is you need to have a couple of schedulers who communicate a lot, but she’s always had a busy life. She did when she was not in the Cabinet. I don’t think it’ll change all that much, but she’ll be busier — no question about it.

[Take Five: Speaker Paul D. Ryan]

Q: How far do you see the Louisville Cardinals going in the NCAA basketball tournament this year?

A: Probably not to the Final Four. But they’ve got a pretty good team. They’re in a really tough league — the ACC. When all is said and done, [University of Kentucky] will probably be in the Final Four again, but regretfully probably not with U of L there.

[Take Five: Chris Van Hollen]

Q: Would you give any thought to inviting President Donald Trump to the Kentucky Derby?

A: That’s an interesting question. I wonder if he’s ever been? That’s worth thinking about. Of course, it would be hard to make the Derby great again since the Derby’s already great.

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