Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to freeze again during an exchange with reporters on Wednesday during an event in his home state of Kentucky.
Video footage showed McConnell, 81, trailing off and remaining silent after he was asked if he would seek re-election in 2026. While the Republican leader acknowledged the question, he froze and began to stare ahead; after roughly 10 seconds, an aide stepped in and asked whether he heard the question. McConnell replied, “yes,” but continued to look off into the distance, prompting the aide to say, “we’re going to need a minute.” The aide then asked for assistance from what appeared to be a member of McConnell’s security detail. The senator appeared to regain his composure after roughly 30 seconds of silence, clearing his throat and stating, “OK.” McConnell answered two more questions from reporters, though his aide relayed the topics to him. He then left the gathering.
A spokesperson for McConnell said he felt “momentarily lightheaded and paused” during the press conference, adding that while he said he feels fine, “as a prudential measure, the leader will be consulting a physician prior to his next event.” President Biden told reporters after delivering remarks on the federal response to Hurricane Idalia and the wildfires on Maui that McConnell is a “good friend,” and said he is going to try to get in contact with him.
The incident marked the second time McConnell appeared to have a medical episode at a public event. The first instance of McConnell freezing occurred during a press conference in the U.S. Capitol on July 26, when he stopped speaking mid-sentence while delivering opening comments and appeared unable to continue with his remarks for roughly 15 seconds. An aide to McConnell later said he “felt lightheaded and stepped away for a moment.”
The freezing incidents come after McConnell tripped at a dinner event in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Washington in March, suffering a concussion. He was hospitalized for several days and received additional treatment at an inpatient rehabilitation facility. McConnell returned to the Senate more than a month after the fall.
McConnell has served as the top Senate Republican since 2007, and he became the longest-serving Senate leader in history when the new Congress began in January. The lawmaker is among the oldest politicians in office and is the 13th longest-serving senator in history with 38 years in office.
Editorial credit: Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com