Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had another worrisome freeze-up during a news conference on Wednesday, going silent for more than 30 seconds after a Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce speech in Covington, Kentucky.
It was eerily similar to an episode last month in which McConnell had to be whisked away by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) after suddenly freezing at the podium during another press conference with reporters at the U.S. Capitol.
BREAKING NEWS: Sen. Mitch McConnell appearing to have another scary episode in the media gaggle in Covington today. Aides had to step in to help him out and repeat questions. He was eventually lead away. We'll have the full video on @WLWT pic.twitter.com/q9ex5MHxLV
— Hannah Thomas (@HannahPThomas) August 30, 2023
On Wednesday, McConnell suddenly paused as he was answering a question about running for re-election in 2026. An aide came to his side and asked if he had heard the question but the 81-year-old didn’t respond.
“I’m sorry y’all, we’re going to need a minute,” the aide said.
After half a minute of uncomfortable silence, McConnell eked out a word. “Okay,” he muttered.
McConnell fielded two more questions from reporters—one about Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, and another about former President Donald Trump’s latest indictment. Both questions had to be repeated to McConnell by his aide, who ended the press conference after the Trump question.
A spokesperson for McConnell told The Daily Beast that the senator “felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today.” An aide added, “While he feels fine, as a prudential measure, the Leader will be consulting a physician prior to his next event.”
President Joe Biden said that he planned to check in with McConnell, calling the minority leader a “good friend.”
“I just heard, literally, coming out. And Mitch is a friend, as you know, not a joke,” Biden said at the White House during a briefing about Hurricane Idalia. “We have disagreements politically, but he’s a good friend. So, I’m going to try to get in touch with him later this afternoon.”
Prior to the alarming Q&A, McConnell delivered a speech for about 20 minutes.
His health has been a concerning issue for Republicans, who hold 49 seats in the Senate to Democrats’ 51. McConnell’s two freezing incidents, coupled with the concussion he suffered after a fall at an event earlier this year, haven’t painted the most optimistic picture of the aging senator’s condition.
In fact, a report from Politico earlier this month suggested that McConnell’s colleagues are growing increasingly alarmed at his health. Particularly, his deteriorating hearing loss has reportedly become more obvious to aides and colleagues—one of whom approached McConnell’s staff about getting the senator hearing aids.