Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suffered an "eerily similar" on-camera appearance Wednesday when he froze in the middle of answering questions from reporters during a press event at a Chamber of Commerce Government Forum in Covington, Kentucky.
This was the second time in six weeks the 81-year-old Republican has frozen during a question-and-answer session while speaking to reporters. The latest incident comes amid increased scrutiny of the health of aging senators in both parties.
McConnell initially chuckled at the question posed by a reporter - who wondered if he would seek re-election in 2026 - before going silent and pausing for 30 seconds. An aide had to step in and repeat the question until McConnell muttered a quiet "yes".
The incident left some lawmakers shocked and concerned. “I got sandbagged”, McConnell jokingly said after his frozen moment during a July press conference just off the Senate Floor. On that occasion, senators including Sen. John Barrasso (R-WYO) had to help shepherd him back to his Senate Office.
Just your average normal lightheadedness!
Move on folks, we're in good hands https://t.co/drKryjAkSL
— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) August 30, 2023
The Senate Minority Leader has had a storied career in politics, first elected in 1984, and since then he has made a name for himself as a wily tactician. McConnell helped install a bevy of conservative judges while in office, and famously battled former President Barack Obama on the nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.
His relationship with former President Donald Trump also soured after the Capitol siege of January 6th, with Trump now regularly attacking McConnell publicly.
Despite the public clashes with Trump, McConnell has said he will support the Republican nomination for President in 2024, when Trump is expected to challenge current President Joe Biden, who is already enduring low approval ratings.
McConnell has also faced other health issues in recent months, including a broken rib and concussion after a fall at Washington D.C.'s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in March, leaving him hospitalized for a week.
This also follows increasing concern over the health of other aging senators, such as California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 90, whose absences have hindered the progress of Democratic nominations.
Despite these doubts, Republicans still have a strong chance of taking control of the Senate this year, which would put McConnell back in the democrats the powerful post he once held.
Whether McConnell's latest health scare violates his ability to be a strong leader - it is too soon to tell.
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