CPAC brought out the big guns Thursday in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his ‘gift’ for the retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
McConnell presented the Oklahoma Republican with a rifle on-stage Thursday, what ABC News described as a “lifetime achievement award” from the NRA. He walked out holding the gun over his head and stood patiently beside the podium for several seconds before Coburn emerged to receive his tribute.
“This is for you, for your distinguished service over the years,” McConnell could be heard saying to Coburn off-mic as he handed his colleague the weapon. Coburn raised the rifle with his left hand, shook McConnell’s hand with his right, and expressed a sign of appreciation to the crowd before exiting, stage-right.
The stout fiscal conservative known for exposing government waste and keeping friends across the aisle despite his politics — he collaborated with then-Sen. Barack Obama on legislation, and the president has described the two of them as “friends” — is stepping down at year’s end amid a recurring battle with prostate cancer. Coburn, however, pegged his retirement to something other than “my health, my prognosis, or even my hopes and desires” in talking about serving his children and grandchildren in his post-Senate life.
After Coburn left, McConnell, who despite his gesture has yet to receive the moniker “The Kentucky Long Rifle,” delivered a red-meat speech for the conservative crowd.
“The President of the United States is treating our Constitution worse than a place mat at Denny’s,” McConnell said in one of his more well-received lines.
Video of the McConnell-Coburn exchange via ABC News below.