The US Senate is “the most privileged nursing home in the country”, the Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said.
The former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the United Nations, 51, was speaking to Fox News a day after the Republican leader in the Senate, 81-year-old Mitch McConnell, suffered a second freeze in a month, this time while speaking to reporters in Kentucky.
“What I will say is, right now, the Senate is the most privileged nursing home in the country,” Haley said. “I mean, Mitch McConnell has done some great things, and he deserves credit. But you have to know when to leave.”
On Thursday, the congressional physician said McConnell was clear to work, perhaps while suffering the after-effects of concussion, sustained in a fall in March, or dehydration. Other falls have been reported, including a “face plant” at a Washington airport, but McConnell has said he will complete his current six-year term, his seventh, which ends in 2026.
It was reported on Thursday that some Republican senators were discussing whether to force a confrontation on the issue of their leader’s health.
Haley said: “No one should feel good about seeing [McConnell’s freezes] any more than we should feel good about seeing Dianne Feinstein, any more than we should feel good about a lot of what’s happening or seeing Joe Biden’s decline.”
Feinstein, 90, is a Democrat and the senior senator from California. Her health and mental capacity long in question, she has said she will retire next year.
Biden, 80, is the oldest president ever elected and would be 86 by the end of his second term if he wins re-election. A recent poll showed that more than 75% of Americans think he is too old to run again. This week, the Guardian reported a claim in a new book that Biden has privately admitted he is occasionally tired.
Polling shows support for upper age limits for elected officials. Haley has called for mental competency tests for candidates over 75, though aiming such remarks more at Biden than Trump, the 77-year-old Republican frontrunner.
“I wouldn’t care if they did [tests] over the age of 50,” Haley told Fox News. “But these people are making decisions on our national security. They’re making decisions on our economy, on the border.
“We need to know they’re at the top of their game. You can’t say that right now, looking at Congress.”
Haley is not at the top of Republican primary polling, which Trump dominates despite facing 91 criminal charges and other forms of legal jeopardy including being adjudicated a rapist.
Haley performed strongly in the first debate, in Wisconsin last week. She was also among candidates who indicated they would support Trump as the nominee even if he was convicted on criminal charges.