President Joe Biden defended his “friend” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) after a freezing episode for approximately thirty seconds at a press conference concerned observers about his health.
“I spoke to Mitch,” Biden said. “He’s a friend, and I spoke to him today and he was his old self on the telephone. And having a little understanding of dealing with neurosurgeons and people, and one of the leading women in my staff, her husband’s a neurosurgeon as well, it’s not at all unusual to have a response that sometimes happens to Mitch when you’ve had a severe concussion,” Biden said. “It’s part of the recovery, and so I’m confident he’s going to be back to his old self.”
McConnell froze for about thirty seconds during an address to the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
The event bears resemblance to a similar moment McConnell had at the US Capitol in the previous month, further fueling queries about the 81-year-old’s capacity to steer the Senate Republican caucus.
On Thursday, the attending physician of Congress Dr. Brian Monahan said that Senator McConnell is “medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned.”
“I have consulted with Leader McConnell and conferred with his neurology team. After evaluating yesterday’s incident, I have informed Leader McConnell that he is medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned,” Dr. Brian Monahan stated in a letter distributed by McConnell’s office.
“Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration,” added Dr. Monahan.
Mitch McConnell, who has led the Senate Republican caucus since 2007, has had his health under scrutiny for some time now. Earlier in the year, he was treated for a concussion and a fractured rib after a fall in a Washington hotel, returning to Senate duties a few weeks later.
McConnell also tripped and fell deboarding a plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in July, two sources familiar with the incident said.
While Biden and some Republicans have attempted to reassure Americans that the longest-serving Senate leader is in good health, others have already begun to call for his resignation.
“He really should contemplate either stepping down as leader, announcing he’s going to retire at the end of this term, and maybe go to a reduced role in the Senate,” said former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
Conservative Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) called for federal oversight, referring to McConnell, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA).
“Severe aging health issues and/or mental health incompetence in our nation’s leaders MUST be addressed. Biden, McConnell, Feinstein, and Fetterman are examples of people who are not fit for office and it’s time to be serious about it,” Greene wrote. “We are talking about our country’s national security and it’s all at stake! 25th amendment and other measures need to be on the table.”
McConnell’s age and health issues have political ramifications extending beyond the question of who will succeed him as Senate Minority Leader Biden, who is 80 years old, currently holds the record as the oldest sitting U.S. president, which is a matter of concern for voters as he seeks re-election.
A recent Associated Press-NORC poll, released on Monday, revealed that 77% of those surveyed believed Biden was too advanced in age to effectively serve as president for another four years. This sentiment was echoed by nearly 90% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats, which is a significant indication of skepticism even within Biden’s own party.