Updated Aug 30, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Mitch McConnell appears to freeze during news conference a second time

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrives to a news conference after a lunch meeting with Senate Republicans U.S. Capitol 26

Mitch McConnell at a news conference on July 26. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared to freeze while speaking Wednesday at a press conference, with an aide stepping in to repeat a question asked while the senator remained silent.

Why it matters: This is the second time McConnell has appeared unable to speak this summer during an interaction with reporters.

Driving the news: A reporter had asked McConnell about potentially running for reelection in 2026 when McConnell appeared to stammer briefly and then freeze.

  • An aide stepped in to repeat the question but McConnell did not resume speaking.
  • “All right, I’m sorry, you all. We’re going to need a minute,” the aide said during roughly 30-second interval during which McConnell remained silent.
  • A second aide stepped in to whisper in McConnell's ear.
  • McConnell ultimately resumed the press conference, answering two other questions posed to him, though both needed to be repeated to him, NBC News reported.

What they're saying: Doug Andres, a spokesperson for the senator, told Axios that McConnell "felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today."

  • An aide to McConnell told Axios that although the senator felt fine, McConnell would be consulting a physician prior to his next event.

Flashback: A similar incident occurred in July, when McConnell — the longest-serving leader in Senate history — appeared suddenly unable to speak and was temporarily escorted away.

The big picture: The aging Congress has fueled questions about fitness for office and term limits.

  • The White House has not been immune from the scrutiny, where a recent AP-NORC poll found 77% of U.S. adults believe Biden is too old to effectively serve for four more years.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional background.

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