Mitch McConnell Freezes During News Conference, Raising Questions About His Health
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky froze up during a news conference in Covington, Ky.
The 81-year-old McConnell was taking questions from reporters after an event hosted by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce when he was asked for his thoughts on running for re-election in 2026. He began to answer the question with a slight chuckle and abruptly stopped speaking for about 30 seconds, standing motionless as he gripped his lectern with his mouth pursed and his eyes fixed.
When an aide approached to ask if he had heard the question, he mumbled “yes,” but he seemed unable to continue speaking or to move.
It was the second such incident in two months, and the scene intensified questions about McConnell’s health condition, his ability to serve and his future in the Senate.
McConnell had a concussion in March when he fell at a Washington hotel during a fund-raising event, and was absent from the Senate for weeks while giving almost no updates on his health status. Since then, he has had at least two more falls, which his office did not disclose.
After Wednesday’s episode, a spokesman said that McConnell had felt lightheaded during the news conference and as a safety measure planned to consult with a physician before his next event. His office provided no further information about the incident.
McConnell, who was elected to a seventh term in 2020 and this year surpassed Mike Mansfield, Democrat of Montana, for the title of longest-serving Senate leader, has made it clear he has no plans to step down from leading the Republican conference and has not acknowledged any physical ailments.
However, the recent string of medical incidents has made his colleagues concerned about his health and his ability to play a role in leading Republicans. Some have noted that his diminished state has meant that he stayed on the sidelines of the debt ceiling negotiations, something a younger McConnell would never have done and that left many Senate Republicans ultimately unhappy with the outcome of the deal.
McConnell had to rely on other members of his leadership team, like Senator John Thune of South Dakota, to step in and lead the conference for him when he was absent for weeks, recovering from a concussion. Since then, his health has continued to raise questions about a potential change coming to Republican leadership in the Senate.
The repeated episodes of McConnell freezing up have also raised questions about his cognitive health. Some experts have speculated that he may be suffering from a neurological condition such as a mini-stroke or a partial seizure. However, there is no definitive diagnosis at this time.
Senator Mitch McConnell Health: Is Mitch McConnell Sick?
McConnell’s health is a major concern for Republicans, who are already facing an uphill battle in the 2024 elections. If McConnell were to step down, it would be a major blow to the party and could lead to a power struggle among his potential successors.
The next few weeks will be critical for McConnell as he seeks to address his health concerns and reassure Republicans that he is still fit to lead the Senate. However, the repeated episodes of freezing up have cast a shadow over his future and raised questions about whether he can continue to serve in the top job.