Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell froze during his opening remarks at the weekly Senate Republican press conference on Wednesday, seemingly unable to speak. Wyoming Sen. John Barasso, who is also a physician, approached him and spoke quietly with him, and the two walked away from the podium.
The top Senate Republican eventually returned to handle questions, but not before arousing the concern of his colleagues. A McConnell aide later said he “felt lightheaded and stepped away for a moment.”
McConnell, 81, was discussing the Senate’s progress on the National Defense Authorization Act when he ceased speaking. Barrasso asked him, “You OK, Mitch?” He asked if the Republican leader wanted to return to his office and helped McConnell away from the podium. Sen. John Thune, the second-ranking Senate Republican, took over the press conference.
When McConnell returned to the podium a short time later, reporters asked what happened, and whether his sudden break in his remarks was related to his injury earlier this year, when he.
“I’m fine,” the top Senate Republican responded.
“You’re fine? You’re fully able to do your job,” a reporter asked?
“Yeah,” McConnell replied.
After the incident, Barrasso said he went back to McConnell’s office to make sure he was OK, but believes McConnell is fine since he returned and took questions. Barrasso said he had concerns after McConnell’s fall, but the Senate minority leader continues to do a “great job” leading the conference.
“I’m a doctor, I’m just not his doctor,” Barrasso said. “He answered questions and he was fine.”
McConnell, a polio survivor, has served in the Senate since 1985.
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