Mitch McConnell froze for 30 seconds when asked if he will run for re-election in Kentucky as he made another troubling appearance just weeks after suddenly stopping in the middle of a press conference.
The 81-year-old Senate Minority leader didn’t respond when a reporter pressed him on his future in a scene eerily similar to that Capitol Hill event last month where colleagues had to intervene.
McConnell appeared to register the question about whether he would run for re-election in 2026 during the event on Wednesday, but then abruptly went silent and stared straight ahead.
An aide had to step in and repeat the question at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Government Forum in Covington.
He was then led away, sparking more concerns about his health and further questions over his position in the GOP leadership.
McConnell’s office later said the Senator was ‘lightheaded’, and insisted he was ‘fine’, but he would consult a doctor as a precaution.
Mitch McConnell, 81, froze again while answering questions from reporters in Kentucky , in another troubling on-camera appearance just weeks after he froze mid-press conference while speaking just off the Senate floor
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
The incident happened right after McConnell, first elected in 1984, was asked about whether he would seek reelection, after speaking for about 20 minutes.
That followed a worrying incident in the Capitol in July where McConnell also froze during a televised event. In that incident, senators including Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) led him back to his Senate office.
McConnell returned minutes later, shaking off the event with a joke about President Biden, who had phoned him after it happened. He froze in mid-remarks outside the Senate chamber for about 21 seconds.
‘I got sandbagged,’ McConnell quipped afterward, pointing to Biden’s stumble after delivering the Air Force Academy commencement address.
In response to the latest incident, Biden called McConnell a ‘friend’ and said he would ‘get in touch with him’ during a White House briefing on the Maui wildfires and response to Hurricane Idalia.
‘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,’ the president told reporters.
The Senate Minority leader didn’t respond for 30 seconds when he suddenly stopped speaking in the middle of a press event in a scene eerily similar to that Capitol Hill press conference last month
An aide had to step in and repeat it for him as he addressed the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Government Forum in Covington. He was then led away, sparking more concerns about his health and further questions over his position in the GOP leadership
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell suddenly stopped talking and had to be walked away from the podium during another scary incident at a press conference in July
He suffered a concussion and broken rib when he tripped and hit his head at the Waldorf Astoria and was admitted to hospital for treatment for a week
McConnell mustered only a quiet ‘yes,’ and was otherwise speechless.
‘I’m sorry, we’re going to need a minute,’ the aide said.
She placed her hand on McConnell’s arm and back. Then, after the long pause, she urged reporters to ‘please speak up,’ suggesting it was an auditory issue.
At the White House, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about it, but said she was unaware if the president had been informed.
Both events follow the powerful Senate leader taking a fall at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, the former Trump hotel in Washington, D.C.
He suffered a concussion and broken rib in March when he tripped and hit his head and was admitted to hospital for treatment for a week.
He needed six weeks to recover.
Minutes before the incident Wednesday, McConnell was speaking cogently about world events. He questioned why fellow Republicans would oppose U.S. aide to Ukraine, noting that no Americans had died as a result and that Russia was being weakened.
McConnell is the longest-serving Republican Senate leader, and has earned a reputation as a wily tactician – helping install a bevy of conservative judges under the Donald Trump presidency, while also stalling President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
He voted against both Trump impeachments, but his relations with Trump ruptured over January 6, and Trump regularly goes after him publicly.
With Democrats forced to defend multiple seats and Biden’s approval underwater, Republicans have a strong chance to take over Senate control, which would put McConnell back into the powerful post he has wielded before.
McConnell’s difficulties come at a time of increased scrutiny on the health of some aging senators, including California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 90, whose absences have hampered the majority Democrats’ ability to move nominations through the Judiciary Committee.
McConnell’s former colleague Biden, 80, could end up in a rematch with Trump, 77.