In a news conference following the weekly Republican party luncheon on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to experience a momentary discomfort, causing concern among his colleagues and the press. The event took place as the senators were discussing progress on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Democrat-led Inflation Reduction Act passage.
The 81-year-old senator from Kentucky began the conference by sharing updates on the NDAA and expressing his appreciation for the bipartisan cooperation. However, he unexpectedly trailed off mid-sentence, appearing to freeze up and stare blankly for nearly a minute. The sudden pause prompted Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming to inquire about McConnell’s well-being, asking if he was okay or if he needed to return to his office.
Concerned for their fellow senator, McConnell’s colleagues intervened, giving him the space he needed to compose himself. Stepping aside briefly, he regained his composure, and fellow Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota and others took the opportunity to address the press.
According to an aide of McConnell’s, he had felt light-headed during the conference, leading him to briefly step away. However, the aide affirmed that McConnell’s sharpness was evident as he returned to handle the Q&A session, answering every question posed by the press.
This incident follows an earlier injury McConnell sustained earlier in the year, where he suffered a concussion and fractured rib from a fall in a Washington hotel. His injury required time for recovery in an inpatient rehabilitation facility before he could resume his duties in the Senate.
Senator Barrasso acknowledged McConnell’s remarkable recovery from the previous injury and commended his leadership of the Republican conference. Notably, during the press conference, McConnell answered more questions than usual, further indicating his determination to fulfill his duties despite any challenges.
Mitch McConnell just froze at a press conference…
Maybe we shouldn’t have 80+ year olds in office…
Maybe we should have term limits…
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) July 26, 2023
Responding to concerns about McConnell’s well-being, Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa reassured reporters that, to the best of her knowledge, everything was okay with the Senate Minority Leader.
As the press conference continued, McConnell returned to the podium, stating firmly that he was fine, and proceeded to address the remaining questions from the press.
After suffering a stroke on camera Mitch McConnell tries to laugh it off with a joke hastily written by his staff then proceeds to immediately freeze up again and stare off into the middle distance.
McConnell is unwell.
He is a cancer on the GOP.
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) July 27, 2023