McConnell defiant after demonstrator tried disrupting his dinner: ‘I enjoyed my meal’

In an op-ed published Tuesday in the Courier Journal of Louisville, Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defiantly wrote that a protester who harassed him while he dined at a local restaurant last week had neither intimidated him nor ruined his meal.

Footage from the episode showed other restaurant patrons immediately stepping in to defend McConnell, R-Ky., on Friday evening as he ate with his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, at the Cuban restaurant Havana Rumba.

“I enjoyed my meal in Louisville on Friday night, and I will continue to eat with my friends and family at my favorite Kentucky restaurants,” McConnell wrote. “I appreciate those who spoke up against the shameful behavior. We hope other customers weren’t too inconvenienced by the extremist left-wing tantrums.”

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McConnell, who offered some new details about the episode, also condemned what he characterized as leftist “antics and incivility.” which he said has been encouraged by top Democrats.

“I’m not sure exactly what in my career suggests I would be easily swayed by such a spectacle,” McConnell wrote. “The reality is simple: I will not be intimidated. But this issue is not really about me, or about any individual elected official. It’s about something larger: The mob mentality that is being systematically fed and encouraged by the far left all across our nation.”

“I enjoyed my meal in Louisville on Friday night.”

— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

He continued: “The threats and intimidation are even being cheered on by prominent, leading Democrats. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there should be no civility until her party was back in power. Eric Holder, President Obama’s Attorney General, recently told a group that ‘when they go low, we kick ‘em. That’s what this new Democratic Party is about.’”

In his remarks to Georgia Democrats and their supporters earlier this month, Holder, the former attorney general, attempted to clarify his exhortation.

“When I say ‘kick ’em,’ I don’t mean do anything inappropriate, don’t do anything illegal,” Holder said. “But we’ve got to be tough. And we’ve got to fight for the very things that John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Whitney Young, all those folks gave to us. That stuff can be taken away. That’s what they want to do.”

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Republicans, including President Trump, have pointed to liberal mobs as a key campaign issue with just two weeks before the midterm elections. They have used the slogan #JobsNotMobs to draw a contrast between the booming economy they say they’ve fostered and opposition imagery —  progressive protesters attempting to claw their way into the Supreme Court during Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s swearing-in earlier this month, for instance, or the videotaped public harassment of several top Trump-aligned officials.

McConnell, writing in the Courier Journal, also provided some additonal factual background for the Friday incident, explaining that he and Chao had been angrily confronted by a man who arrived “off the street.”

“As Elaine and I sat at a booth and enjoyed our dinner, a man came in off the street and rushed at us,” McConnell wrote. “Acting alone, he began shouting, slamming his fists on our table, and causing a disruption as others tried to eat. At one point, he even grabbed my wife’s to-go box off of our table and threw it outside onto the ground.”

He said that prior to the attack, he’d had a much different interaction with a constituent.

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“While Elaine and I waited for our table, a social worker approached us,” McConnell wrote. “She wanted to talk about the devastating effects of opioid addiction she witnessed firsthand. We discussed her work and how important this issue is to Kentucky and the country. That’s how our government is supposed to work – with reasoned judgment and respect, not with intimidation and extreme mob behavior.”

In a video posted on TMZ, McConnell and his wife appeared to be finishing up their meal when they were approached abruptly. One of the men near McConnell began shouting at the Kentucky lawmaker, saying, “Get out of here” and “Why don’t you leave the entire country?”

The man also allegedly grabbed McConnell’s box of leftovers and threw it.

In the video, other diners appear to be irritated at the disruption – pointing at the unnamed protester and encouraging him to leave the restaurant. McConnell was seen afterward thanking some of his constituents and shaking hands before he left.

Friday’s incident marked the latest dining disaster for the Senate’s top Republican, who in July was hounded outside Louisville’s Bristol Bar & Grille by a group of protesters and then, on the following day, was forced to leave an Italian restaurant mid-meal when another group of protesters with a megaphone confronted him with chants of “No justice, no peace” and strains of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.”

McConnell is not the only political figure to face protests and disruptions while dining out. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had to cut short a working dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Washington in June after protesters shouted, “Shame!” until she left. The day before, protesters gathered outside Nielsen’s Virginia townhouse, chanting, “No justice, no sleep,”  and playing recordings of immigrant children crying.

In July, a diner at a Washington restaurant accosted then-EPA chief Scott Pruitt, demanding that he resign from his post. Pruitt resigned several days later amid scandal.

Also this summer, a restaurant refused to serve White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders or her family.

Last year, a left-wing activist screaming “This is for health care” opened fire at a Republican congressional baseball practice, nearly killing House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La, and wounding two others. Capitol police officers neutralized the gunman.

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly contributed to this report.

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