Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared to freeze up at the podium while taking questions in Kentucky on Wednesday, the second time in recent weeks that he paused while talking to reporters.
During a gaggle in Covington, Ky., a reporter asked McConnell, 81, for his thoughts about running for reelection in 2026.
The Senate GOP leader twice asked the reporter to repeat the question, then responded “that’s a,” before freezing and looking ahead for roughly 30 seconds, according to a video posted on X by MSNBC.
At one point during the freeze-up, an aide walked up to McConnell and asked “did you hear the question, senator, running for reelection in 2026?” To which McConnell replied with a word that was inaudible.
“Alright, I’m sorry you all, we’re gonna need a minute,” the aide said.
After the roughly 30 seconds of unresponsiveness passed, McConnell said “OK,” and his aide resumed the gaggle, asking reporters to “please speak up.”
A spokesperson for McConnell said the GOP leader “felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today.”
McConnell “feels fine,” an aide said, but “as a prudential measure, the Leader will be consulting a physician prior to his next event.”
Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.), Senate GOP Conference Vice Chair Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), all spoke to McConnell Wednesday afternoon, according to spokespeople for the three.
The Thune spokesperson said McConnell “sounded like his usual self and was in good spirits,” Capito’s aide said the senator “said the leader sounded fine and she looks forward to seeing him when the Senate is back on Tuesday,” and the Daines spokesperson said the NRSC chair “was glad to hear the Leader sounds like himself and is feeling fine.”
President Biden also said he plans to call McConnell — who he called “a good friend” — Wednesday afternoon.
“I just heard, literally, coming out. And Mitch is a friend, as you know, not a joke,” Biden said during remarks at the White House regarding the Hurricane Idalia response. “We have disagreements politically, but he’s a good friend.”
“So, I’m going to try to get in touch with him later this afternoon. I don’t know enough to know,” Biden added.
Wednesday’s episode came just over one month after McConnell, during his weekly press conference in the Capitol, froze up while fielding questions from reporters. During that incident, he stared straight ahead without saying anything for nearly 20 seconds before being escorted away from the press conference.
He later returned and told reporters “I’m fine” and said “yeah” when asked if he is fully able to do his job, before taking more questions on various topics. A McConnell aide at the time also said the GOP leader “felt lightheaded and stepped away for a moment.”
McConnell on Wednesday also fielded a question from a reporter on Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R), who is running for governor of the state. His aide was captured on camera reading the question, according to a separate video posted on X.
A reporter then asked the senator about supporting former President Trump as the GOP presidential nominee despite his latest indictments, a question that the aide repeated. McConnell said “I’m not gonna comment about the presidential race, either on the Republican side or the Democratic side,” an answer he typically gives when asked about Trump.
The Senate GOP leader then walked away from the podium and left the room. According to NBC News, the press gaggle came after McConnell spoke for roughly 20 minutes.
McConnell was hospitalized earlier this year after he fell at a private dinner at the Waldorf Astoria on March 9. He suffered a concussion and a minor rib fracture. The GOP leader was discharged from the hospital days later and went to an in-patient rehabilitation facility. He returned home on March 25 and was back in the Capitol for work on April 17.
After McConnell’s freeze-up in July, news broke that the GOP leader had fallen two other times this year. One was in February in Finland, where McConnell and a U.S. delegation were visiting to meet with the Finnish president, according to CNN. The network said the GOP leader “dusted himself off and continued on with the meeting” with the Finnish president.
The other incident was in July when McConnell was getting off the plane at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., per NBC News. The senator was seen at the Capitol later that day and interacted with at least one reporter, according to the network.
Updated at 5:59 p.m.