Video footage of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was going viral on Wednesday amid the latest speculation about his health prompted by what one journalist called “another scary episode.”
It was the second time in as many months that the 81-year-old longtime Republican U.S. Senator from Kentucky that something like this happened while he was speaking publicly.
In the new footage, which was recorded in the town of Covington and begins abruptly, McConnell can be heard asking, “what am I talking about?” When a voice responds, “running for reelection,” McConnell says, “oh,” and then briefly chuckles before staring blankly ahead for about five seconds while the room goes silent.
When an apparent aide asks McConnell whether he heard the question, he responds “yes” while keeping his eyes trained in the same blank stare followed by more silence. That’s when the aide asks reporters for “a minute” and she is joined by another apparent aide speaking to McConnell at a podium.
After conferring for about 10 seconds, McConnell says, “OK,” as the event continued.
Hannah Thomas of WLWT, who first shared the footage on social media, called it “another scary episode” for McConnell.
The episode on Wednesday came just about one month after McConnell similarly froze up during a press conference and needed help walking away.
The footage last month sparked speculation that McConnell had just suffered a stroke on live television.
The two recent episodes came just about three months after McConnell returned to work following a six-week-long absence as he recovered from a concussion and rib injury sustained when he fell in a hotel in Washington, D.C. In that instance, he was hospitalized for five days before moving to a rehabilitation center to finish healing. McConnell worked from home briefly before returning to Capitol Hill.
Wednesday’s incident is likely to renew the debate about age and term limits for elected officials serving in the upper levels of government.
Republicans have been particularly critical of President Joe Biden and cited his age of 80 years — one year younger than McConnell — as a reason he should be disqualified from seeking a second term in the White House. Other Democrats targeted by Republicans for their age and health include longtime California Sen. Dianna Feinstein, 90, and Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, 53, the latter of whom suffered a stroke last year while campaigning for his current office and missed weeks of work while treating depression.
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