[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/11/art.mcconell.file.gi.jpg caption="Senator Mitch McConnell's longtime aide is leaving to spend more time with his family."]Washington (CNN) - Sen. Mitch McConnell is known for bare-knuckled politics, but the Kentucky Republican showed his personal side Thursday when he broke down in tears on the Senate floor while speaking of his departing chief of staff.
Kyle Simmons, a longtime aide to the Senate minority leader, is leaving to spend more time with his family, McConnell said.
The senator repeatedly choked back sobs and used a handkerchief to wipe away tears as he paid tribute to Simmons.
Describing Simmons as a tough but gracious competitor who always remembered the human side of politics, McConnell needed an emotional pause when saying: "Now that he's leaving, I'm just as confident that our office will carry on just as it always has because he leaves a fantastic team behind."
"He's made the right decision, as he usually does," McConnell concluded, adding that Simmons "leaves behind an office and a boss that will miss him terribly."