2024 Election

Mitch McConnell, 81, Suddenly Freezes During Press Conference

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell froze midsentence during a press conference on Wednesday, triggering fresh questions about his health and renewing the debate about whether the nation’s politicians are simply too old.

The 81-year-old Republican was speaking at his leadership briefing when he stopped abruptly, unable to complete his sentence.

‘There’s been good bipartisan cooperation and a string of er … ‘ he said before stopping and staring into space as he shifted uneasily on his feet.

He stood frozen awkwardly for more than 20 seconds in front of the assembled cameras before colleagues stepped in to help.

Republican Senator John Barrasso made sure McConnell was steady, then guided him to the side of the podium.

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa made a sign of the cross, suggesting she was praying for McConnell.

Another GOP Senator John Thune carried on, before McConnell returned and said: ‘I’m fine’.

When a reporter asked if he felt he can fully do his job, McConnell said ‘yes’ and continued.

A McConnell aide later said that he felt ‘light-headed’ and stepped away for a moment.

‘But he came back and was sharp for the Q and A,’ added the aide.

McConnell’s office did not offer any further details about whether he would receive any further tests or treatments.

It comes months after he was released from hospital following a fall during dinner in Washington D.C.

He suffered a concussion and broken rib when he tripped and hit his head at the Waldorf Astoria and was admitted to hospital for treatment for a week.

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He needed six weeks to recover.

‘It’s good to be back,’ he said after returning to work. ‘Suffice to say, this wasn’t the first time being hard-headed has served me very well.’ 

The latest episode will provoke further questions about the increasing number of politicians tarrying in post even after the age of 80, when practically all people would have retired.

Joe Biden is already the oldest president in history and would be 86 if he wins next year’s election and completes his second term.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 90, missed weeks away from Washington with shingles earlier this year.

Complications included encephalitis and she has fought with memory problems. She has announced her retirement at the end of her term in 2025 but has said she has no intention of stepping down earlier regardless of frequent reports that she is no longer up to the stringent demands of life in a divided Senate.

McConnell joined the Senate in 1985. He does not face re-election until the 2026 midterm elections.

The issue has pushed its way into the 2024 campaign.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley launched her run by calling for competency tests for politicians older than 75.

‘In the America I see, the permanent politician will finally retire,’ she said. ‘We’ll have term limits for Congress.

‘And mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old.’

 

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Ella Ford is a mother of two, a Christian conservative writer with degrees in American History, Social and Behavioral Science and Liberal Studies, based in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.

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