Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell once again froze, appeared unable to speak and did not seem to register that someone was speaking to him in a concerning moment at a press conference.
Video of the incident emerged Wednesday afternoon after the senator, 81, appeared to trail off in the middle of answering a question about whether he would run for reelection. In the video, an aide approaches him and asks him if he has heard the question while he stares off at the cameras, appearing distant or overwhelmed.
He was then briefly lead away, before returning.
“Leader McConnell felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today,” said a spokesman for the senator Wednesday afternoon.
An aide to the GOP leader also indicated that Mr McConnell would seek a physician’s counsel before attending another press conference.
The incident mirrored a moment that occurred just a few weeks ago in the halls of the US Senate, when the GOP leader was lead away by his Republican colleagues in the middle of a press conference after appearing unable to speak. In that situation he also returned a few minutes later, assuring reporters gruffly that he was fine.
Mr McConnell is the highest-ranking Republican and fourth-oldest member in the US Senate. He has represented Kentucky since 1985 in the upper chamber, and has been in Republican leadership since becoming whip in 2003.
He has also been the target of significant scrutiny regarding his health and stamina in recent months following news that he has suffered at least 3 falls in 2023. One of those occurred at Reagan National Airport and was described as a “face-plant”. In March, he was hospitalised with a concussion.
Known for his iron grip on the Senate Republican conference, which remains more disciplined and reserved than its counterpart in the House of Representatives, Mr McConnell emerged throughout the Trump presidency and Biden years as one of Donald Trump’s biggest obstacles within the Republican Party itself. He famously whipped votes against efforts to interfere in the certification of the 2020 election in 2021, and failed to earn back the president’s good wishes by opposing Mr Trump’s second impeachment.
As a result, he is a frequent target of Mr Trump’s on social media; he was even subject to a sort-of coup attempt earlier this year when Senator Rick Scott of Florida tried and failed to oust him as leader of the Senate GOP conference.