Mitch McConnell: what happened to Senate Republican leader who ‘froze’ during press conference - health update

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US Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, 81, froze for a good 19 seconds in a bizarre press conference.

A video of US Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has gone viral after he remained frozen for a prolonged period of time during a weekly press conference amid speculation surrounding the health of the 81-year-old.

It has been reported that the senator suffered a concussion in the past. In early 2023, he fell and was taken to the hospital, where doctors discovered he had a head injury and broken ribs. McConnell had to undergo rehab before he could even return to work.

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But the bizarre press conference has left people wondering if McConnell has entirely recovered from the fall, with many questioning his ability to lead given his old age and some urging the country to introduce an age limit.

McConnell was silent for 19 seconds, according to NBC News and his Republican colleagues asked whether he was okay, and a top McConnell deputy, Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, who is also a physician, escorted McConnell away from the cameras and reporters.

A few minutes later, McConnell walked back to the news conference by himself. Asked about his health especially after the fall, he said he was fine. Asked whether he is fully able to do his job, he said, "Yeah."

Asked about the episode, an aide pointed to McConnell’s saying, “I’m fine,” but the aide added that McConnell “felt lightheaded and stepped away for a moment. He came back to handle Q&A, which as everyone observed was sharp," the aide said.

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Following the incident, McConnell was reportedly able to continue his duties and attend scheduled meetings as well as make it to some Senate votes.

What caused Mitch McConnell’s freeze?

Some people have speculated that a stroke actually caused the freeze. According to The New York Times’ interview with experts, McConnell most likely had either a transient ischemic attack (sometimes known as a "mini-stroke") or a partial seizure.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 26: (L-R) Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) reaches out to help Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) after McConnell froze and stopped talking at the microphones during a news conference after a lunch meeting with Senate Republicans U.S. Capitol 26, 2023 in Washington, DC. Also pictured, at center, Sen. John Thune (R-SD). McConnell was escorted back to his office and later returned to the news conference and answered questions.  (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 26: (L-R) Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) reaches out to help Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) after McConnell froze and stopped talking at the microphones during a news conference after a lunch meeting with Senate Republicans U.S. Capitol 26, 2023 in Washington, DC. Also pictured, at center, Sen. John Thune (R-SD). McConnell was escorted back to his office and later returned to the news conference and answered questions.  (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 26: (L-R) Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) reaches out to help Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) after McConnell froze and stopped talking at the microphones during a news conference after a lunch meeting with Senate Republicans U.S. Capitol 26, 2023 in Washington, DC. Also pictured, at center, Sen. John Thune (R-SD). McConnell was escorted back to his office and later returned to the news conference and answered questions. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) | Getty Images

“If I were his doctor or was in that audience, I would have recommended he go to the emergency room immediately,” Dr. Schwamm, a neurologist and stroke expert at Yale, told The Times.

A less likely possibility is that this moment was actually just the result of a migraine.

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Who is Mitch McConnell?

First elected in 1984, McConnell is the Senate leader with the longest tenure in American history with his next election quickly approaching in 2026. In 2025, his position as Republican Party leader will be up for election. McConnell has previously confirmed that he intends to complete both of his current terms.

The answer to whether he will run again however remains still uncertain as he is known to avoid the question, including at this press conference. McConnell laughed after being asked who he would want to replace him as party leader if he decided to step down.

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