Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stumbled Wednesday during a press conference with other Republican Senate leaders, but he seemed to quickly recover after being checked on by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY).
The seventy-eight-year-old Senate Minority Leader had just begun a speech when he “momentarily froze,” according to a witness. After pausing for about twenty seconds, Barrasso, a physician, grabbed onto McConnell’s arm and asked, “You okay, Mitch?”
“Is there anything else you want to say or should we just go back to your office?” Barrasso asked.
McConnell and Barrasso then stepped away for a brief period of time before returning to the presser. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) took over in the interim.
An aide for McConnell said that the senator “felt light-headed and stepped away for a moment. He came back to handle Q and A, which as everyone observed was sharp.”
Odd moment: McConnell freezes at start of Senate GOP leadership press conference and is escorted to the side by his colleagues pic.twitter.com/hT5bLnstOS
— Raquel Martin (@RaquelMartinTV) July 26, 2023
Barrasso said he was “concerned when he fell and hit his head a number of months ago and was hospitalized.”
McConnell jokingly took a jab at President Joe Biden, who had stumbled earlier this year at an Air Force commencement ceremony in Colorado Springs, when he returned to the presser.
“The president called to check on me,” McConnell said. “I told him I got sandbagged. … Gotta watch those sandbags!”
BREAKING: Biden takes a big fall on stage just now at the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation pic.twitter.com/GxkMbpyoNo
— Jake Schneider (@jacobkschneider) June 1, 2023
With McConnell feeling better and speaking lucidly at the press conference, concerns over the Senator’s health seemed to be soothed, for now. It is unclear whether this incident was indicative of a larger issue or simply a momentary slip.
McConnell, however, has a long history of health issues. He has had two bouts of skin cancer along with a stroke and a broken arm— in addition to the accident he had earlier this year when he fell, hitting his head.
But so far, senators from both sides of the aisle have commended McConnell for his leadership during this Congress, noting that he had managed to forge a solid working relationship between the Republican-led Senate and the Biden administration. McConnell’s ability to maintain his composure on Wednesday, even when faced with a difficult situation, is being seen as evidence of the senator’s resilience.