For the second time in five weeks, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has frozen while on camera.
In response to a question from a reporter during an Aug. 30 press conference at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Government Forum on whether he plans to run for reelection in 2026, Mr. McConnell said, “That’s a—” but suddenly froze. After about 17 seconds, an aide approached him and asked if he had heard the question and stated what the question was.
“Yes,” said Mr. McConnell, who froze again.
“I’m sorry, y’all,” the aide said. “We’re going to need a minute.”
Moments later, Mr. McConnell said that the Kentucky gubernatorial race in November would be “close” and that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the Republican nominee, is the best one whom the GOP could have put up. The state’s governor, Andy Beshear, is up for reelection.
Mr. McConnell answered one last question, about former President Donald Trump’s latest indictment. He said he wouldn’t comment on the former president, who has been indicted four times, or on the 2024 presidential race.
An aide told The Epoch Times that Mr. McConnell, who is 81 years old, “felt momentarily lightheaded” and paused during his press conference.
“While he feels fine, as a prudential measure, the leader will be consulting a physician prior to his next event,” the aide said.
President Joe Biden said he would try to call the Senate minority leader later in the afternoon.
“Mitch is a friend, as you know, not a joke. We always—people don’t believe that’s the case, but we have disagreements politically, but he’s a good friend. And so I’m going to try to get in touch with him later this afternoon. I don’t know enough to know,” President Biden said after giving a speech in the afternoon of Aug. 30 on the government’s response to Hurricane Idalia and the Maui fires.
President Biden had called Mr. McConnell following his first freeze-up. Mr. McConnell told reporters that he joked to the president that he got “sandbagged,” a reference to President Biden tripping on a sandbag in June after handing out diplomas at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“Gotta watch those sandbags,” Mr. McConnell said at the time.
The last time Mr. McConnell froze was on July 26 during a press conference following the weekly Senate GOP policy luncheon. He was escorted away from the podium but returned shortly thereafter, and when asked about his condition, he said he was “fine.”
A McConnell aide later told The Epoch Times that Mr. McConnell, who is in his seventh term in the Senate, “felt lightheaded and stepped away for a moment” and “came back to handle Q&A, which, as everyone observed, was sharp.”
GOP senators stood by Mr. McConnell as leader following the episode in July.
“I was concerned when he fell and hit his head a number of months ago. He was hospitalized and he’s made a remarkable recovery, he’s doing a great job leading our conference,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told Politico. “He was able to answer every question that the press asked him today. And you may note, he answered more questions than he normally does.”
Mr. McConnell, a childhood polio survivor, had a concussion and broke his ribs after falling at an event in March. He was hospitalized and, following therapy, returned to the Senate the following month.
“He’ll know when it’s time. He’s not going to put our caucus in harm’s way,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) told the news outlet. “If he didn’t think he can do it, I’m sure he’ll make that decision.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) was the first member of Congress to respond to the latest incident on Aug. 30.
“Severe aging health issues and/or mental health incompetence in our nation’s leaders MUST be addressed,” Ms. Greene posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Biden, McConnell, Feinstein, and Fetterman are examples of people who are not fit for office and it’s time to be serious about it.”
President Biden and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are aged 80 and 90, respectively.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.