Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faced another concerning moment as he appeared to freeze for about 30 seconds during a press conference in Covington, Kentucky. This incident comes on the heels of a similar episode McConnell experienced at the US Capitol last month, further prompting questions about the 81-year-old’s ability to lead the Senate Republican caucus effectively.
The incident unfolded when a reporter posed a question about McConnell’s plans for the 2026 reelection. The Republican leader struggled to comprehend the question, requesting it to be repeated multiple times. After a brief chuckle, McConnell fell into a prolonged pause, closing his mouth and staring ahead, seemingly frozen in thought.
An aide standing nearby tried to intervene, asking, “Did you hear the question, senator, running for reelection in 2026?” However, McConnell remained unresponsive. Eventually, the aide addressed the reporters, apologizing and explaining, “I’m sorry you all, we’re gonna need a minute.” Another member of McConnell’s team quietly conversed with him, leading to McConnell whispering an answer.
After regaining his composure, McConnell turned back to the reporters, stating “OK,” and his aide requested additional questions, emphasizing that reporters should “speak up.”
A spokesperson for McConnell later clarified that the Kentucky Republican had felt “momentarily lightheaded” and paused due to this sensation during the press conference. The spokesperson added, “While he feels fine, as a prudential measure, the leader will be consulting a physician before his next event.”
Despite these concerns about his health, McConnell proceeded with his schedule, attending a fundraiser for Indiana Senate candidate Rep. Jim Banks shortly after the incident. The decision to continue with his commitments indicates that McConnell is keen to maintain his political activities.
McConnell’s health has been a subject of scrutiny throughout the year. He suffered a concussion and fractured rib after falling at a hotel in Washington in March, which temporarily sidelined him. In July, he experienced a similar freezing episode during a news conference on Capitol Hill, which his office attributed to lightheadedness and dehydration. During that incident, McConnell asserted that he was “fine.”
Following the recent episode, McConnell and his colleague, Senate Republican Whip John Thune, spoke with each other, and Thune’s spokesperson affirmed that McConnell sounded like his usual self and was in good spirits.
At a fundraiser for Rep. Jim Banks, where McConnell was in a “great mood,” according to sources, he refrained from addressing the freezing episode. The focus of their discussion was on issues pertinent to Kentucky and Indiana.
President Joe Biden also expressed his intention to reach out to McConnell regarding the incident, highlighting their personal relationship despite political disagreements.
As concerns about McConnell’s health continue to circulate, the incident underscores the ongoing dialogue about his capacity to lead effectively in his role as Senate Minority Leader.