Mitch McConnell to consult doctor after freezing, struggling to speak for second time this summer

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Sen. Mitch McConnell froze before a gaggle of reporters Wednesday, once again raising concerns about the 81-year-old Republican leader's health.

At an event Wednesday in Kentucky, he was asked about running for reelection in 2026 and appeared to begin an answer before quickly freezing and going silent for seven seconds.

This is the second time in less than two months such an incident has interrupted a news conference featuring McConnell.

The Senate minority leader will be consulting a physician prior to his next event, a McConnell aide, who asked for anonymity in order to speak candidly, told USA TODAY.

His office has not responded to multiple questions this summer about the senator’s freezing at the microphone and hasn't shared what medical advice or diagnosis McConnell has previously received.

Earlier in the day, McConnell spoke fluently about a possible government shutdown and a possible short-term spending deal.

President Joe Biden, who learned about the incident shortly before making public remarks about the federal response to Hurricane Idalia, said he would reach out to McConnell.

Robbin Taylor, State Director to U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joins McConnell while he speaks at the NKY Chamber of Commerce at the Madison Event Center, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023, in Covington, Ky. McConnell appeared to briefly freeze up and was unable to answer a question from a reporter during the event on Wednesday, weeks after he had a similar episode in Washington.

What happened to McConnell?

During a news conference late last month at the U.S. Capitol, McConnell abruptly stopped speaking and stood silently for roughly 28 seconds. He was then escorted away from a lectern by his Republican colleagues.

A McConnell aide, who asked for anonymity in order to speak candidly, told USA TODAY after the July incident the Kentucky Republican, "felt lightheaded and stepped away for a moment." When he came back to the news conference, McConnell was "sharp" the aide pointed out.

McConnell was hospitalized in March for a fractured rib and concussion he suffered from a fall at a hotel in Washington.

McConnell has fallen at least two other times this year – once at a Washington, D.C., airport on July 14 and another time during a foreign trip in February – a source close to the senator who is familiar with his work habits confirmed with USA TODAY.

A McConnell spokesperson declined to comment on the falls but noted the GOP leader has still been walking around the Capitol for the past few months, delivering floor remarks and leading media stakeouts. As a safeguard, he has been using a wheelchair in certain circumstances.

"This is simply a prudent and precautionary measure in a crowded area," the McConnell spokesperson told USA TODAY late last month.

This story will be updated.

Contributing: Maureen Groppe.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mitch McConnell freezes, struggles to speak again in second incident