Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao: Marriage, Relationship Timeline

Elaine Chao, 69, served as the US secretary of transportation under former President Donald Trump.

Elaine Chao speaks in Congress, with Mitch McConnell visible in the background

Elaine Chao.

Reuters/Carlos Barria

She previously served as US secretary of labor from 2001 to 2009. Chao moved to the US from Taiwan at age 8 and grew up in New York, according to ABC News.

McConnell and Chao met through a mutual friend, Stuart Bloch, in Washington, DC in the early 1990s.

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao in 2002

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao in 2002.

John Simpson/Getty Images

According to The New York Times, Bloch and McConnell met in the 1960s. Bloch was married to Julia Chang Bloch, who was a mentor of Chao’s.

Bloch invited McConnell to a candlelit dinner with Chao, and the couple hit it off right away.

At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 17, 2016.

At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 17, 2016.

Matt Rourke/AP Images

“I don’t want to say that sparks flew,” Bloch told The New York Times in 2014, “because that’s not the way either of them is.” 

They married on February 6, 1993, in a private ceremony in the chapel of the US Capitol.

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao pose before their marriage in the chapel of the US Capitol on February 6, 1993.

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao pose before their marriage in the chapel of the US Capitol on February 6, 1993.

Shayna Brennan/AP Images

They chose that wedding date for three reasons, according to The Washington Post: It’s Ronald Reagan’s birthday, it was just before Chao’s 40th birthday, and it was right before a one-week Senate recess.

McConnell was previously married and has three children from that relationship.

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao holding hands.

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao holding hands.

Pablo Alcala/AP Images

McConnell’s first wife, Sherrill Redmon, went on to become a feminist scholar. The two divorced in 1980.

In 1998, the couple told The Washington Post how they divide household labor.

elaine chao mitch mconnell hugging

At the Republican National Convention in New York on Sept.1, 2004.


McConnell cooked once in a while and did the laundry; Chao was responsible for fixing things around the house, the Post reported.

Chao has often campaigned with her husband, becoming known as the “campaign hugger,” according to Time.

Mitch McConnell and wife Elaine Chao on the campaign trail in 2008

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao wave to supporters during a campaign stop in Kentucky in 2008.

Mark Lyons/Getty Images

McConnell had polio as a child and finds backslapping painful, so Chao has stepped in to hug constituents in his stead.

“She very actively listens. She really pays attention and remembers details about people,” Kelly Westwood, head of the Kenton County women’s Republican group, told Time in 2014. “She doesn’t see them for months and then says, ‘I know you sprained your arm, how’s it going?’ Or, ‘How’s you bid for city council going?’ She remembers everything.”

Chao also starred in campaign ads defending McConnell’s record on women’s issues, for which she received some pushback.

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao hold their hands over their hearts as the national anthem plays at a campaign event in 2014

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao hold their hands over their hearts as the national anthem plays at a campaign event in 2014.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Chao appeared in a 2014 campaign ad touting McConnell as a co-sponsor of the original Violence Against Women Act in 1991, which is accurate. But, as Talking Points Memo pointed out, McConnell also voted against the final legislation in 1993 and its reauthorizations in 2012 and 2013.

In 2017, when then-President Donald Trump criticized McConnell on Twitter, Chao responded by telling reporters: “I stand by my man — both of them.”

elaine chao donald trump Charlottesville

Elaine Chao looks on as President Donald Trump speaks following a meeting on infrastructure that turned into a press conference on the events in Charlottesville on August 15, 2017.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

After McConnell said the White House had “excessive expectations” for Congress, Trump took to Twitter to respond.

“Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don’t think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?” he wrote, according to CNN.

Trump tweeted again the following day: “Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing. You can do it!”

Reporters asked Chao, who had attended an infrastructure meeting at Trump Tower, what she thought of Trump’s comments. She replied: “I stand by my man — both of them.”

The Washington Post reported that McConnell’s wealth had increased sevenfold in 10 years, from $3.1 million in 2004 to $22.8 million in 2014.

elaine chao mitch mconnell 14

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao cast their ballots in the midterm elections at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2014.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images

The Post reported that McConnell’s net worth increased due to an inheritance the couple received after Chao’s mother passed away in 2007.

In October, Trump referred to Chao with a racist nickname in a diatribe on Truth Social while slamming McConnell.

Elaine Chao, with Mitch McConnell visible in the background

Elaine Chao after her swearing-in as the transportation secretary, with her husband, Senator Mitch McConnell.

Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Trump unleashed a barrage of insults against McConnell in a Truth Social tirade accusing the Kentucky lawmaker of having a “death wish” and approving “trillions of dollars worth of Democrat sponsored bills” because he “hates Donald J, Trump.”

But the former president didn’t stop there: He proceeded to insult Chao, who served in Trump’s own administration, with a racist nickname, calling her McConnell’s “China loving wife, Coco Chow!”

Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, along with some former Trump aides, denounced the post.

In November, McConnell voted against protections for interracial and same-sex marriages in the Respect for Marriage Act, despite being in an interracial marriage himself.

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao

Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao at the US Capitol in 2021.


The Respect for Marriage Act would codify same-sex and interracial marriage into federal law, requiring states to recognize marriages that were valid in the state where they were performed. McConnell was among 37 Republicans who voted against the bill, while 12 GOP Senators and all Democrats voted in support.

Chao was the first Asian woman to be appointed to a presidential cabinet.

On March 8, McConnell was hospitalized after he tripped and fell at the Waldorf Astoria in Washington, DC.

Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell at the Capitol in March 2023.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

“This evening, Leader McConnell tripped at a local hotel during a private dinner. He has been admitted to the hospital where he is receiving treatment,” a spokesperson for McConnell told Insider’s Matthew Loh on Wednesday evening.

Further details on McConnell’s injury or prognosis have not been released.

McConnell previously fractured his shoulder in 2019 after tripping on the patio of his Kentucky residence.

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