30 August 2023

Mitch McConnell appears to briefly freeze up again

30 August 2023

US Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell appeared to briefly freeze up and was unable to answer a question from a reporter at an event in Kentucky on Wednesday, weeks after he had a similar episode in Washington.

According to video from a local news station, Mr McConnell, 81, was asked whether he would run for re-election in 2026.

The senator asked the reporter to repeat the question before trailing off and staring straight ahead for about 10 seconds.

A woman standing at the front of the room with Mr McConnell asked him whether he heard the question and she repeated it.

When Mr McConnell did not answer, she announced to the room that “we’re going to need a minute”.

Mr McConnell’s reaction was similar to the time when he froze for about 20 seconds at a news conference in the Capitol in late July.

He went back to his office with aides and then returned to answer more questions.

The latest incident adds to the questions in recent months about Mr McConnell’s health and whether the Kentucky Republican, who was first elected to the Senate in 1984 and has served as Republican leader since 2007, will remain in his leadership post.

After the July episode, his office said Mr McConnell was lightheaded and he told reporters later that he was “fine”.

Neither Mr McConnell or his aides have given any further details about what happened.

In March he suffered a concussion and a broken rib after falling and hitting his head after a dinner event at a hotel.

He did not return to the Senate for almost six weeks. He has been using a wheelchair in the airport while commuting back and forth to Kentucky.

Since then, he has appeared to walk more slowly and his speech has sounded more halting.

Mr McConnell had polio in his early childhood and he has long acknowledged some difficulty as an adult in climbing stairs.

In addition to his fall in March, he also tripped and fell four years ago at his home in Kentucky, causing a shoulder fracture that required surgery.

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