Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, froze for about thirty seconds during an address to the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
The senator’s awkward televised moment alarmed observers about a possible health emergency.
“Did you hear the question, senator, running for reelection in 2026?”
McConnell did not respond.
“I’m sorry you all, we’re gonna need a minute,” the aide told reporters.
A member of the senator’s staff spoke quietly to him, and McConnell whispered an answer back to him.
McConnell turned to reporters and said, “OK.” The senator’s aide asked if anyone had another question and told reporters to “speak up.”
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.
The latest incident took place when a journalist inquired if McConnell intended to seek reelection in 2026. McConnell requested the question to be repeated multiple times, chuckled briefly, and then fell silent.
An individual standing beside him prompted, “Did you hear the question, senator, running for reelection in 2026?” McConnell remained silent.
“Apologies everyone, we need a moment,” said an aide to the assembled reporters. One of the senator’s staff conversed with him softly, after which McConnell managed to whisper a reply.
Turning his attention back to the journalists, McConnell stated, “OK,” and his aide asked if there were any more questions, advising the reporters to “speak up.”
A spokesperson for McConnell later informed CNN that the senator “felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today.” Another aide noted, “While he feels fine, as a prudential measure, the leader will be consulting a physician prior to his next event.”
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.
In late July, McConnell paused for half a minute during a Capitol Hill news conference.
At that time, his office indicated he was “lightheaded,” and it was later stated by Republicans that he had been dehydrated. After that occurrence, McConnell assured reporters he was “fine.”
McConnell also tripped and fell deboarding a plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in July, two sources familiar with the incident said.
As for the White House’s reaction, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre didn’t specify early Wednesday afternoon whether President Joe Biden was informed of McConnell’s recent lapse but expressed, “clearly, we wish him well – a speedy recovery.”