For the second time this summer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday completely froze at the lectern during a press event, staring into space blankly instead of answering a reporter’s question.
A video clip of the press event in Covington, Kentucky, shows McConnell, 81, initially unable to hear a reporter’s question about running for reelection. When the reporter repeated the question, he said “oh,” with a slight chuckle, mumbled something indecipherable, and then stared into space for roughly 30 seconds.
McConnell weakly responded “yes” when a member of his staff asked if he had heard the question, but continued staring blankly.
“All right, I’m sorry, you all. We’re going to need a minute,” she said, while motioning to another staffer for assistance.
That staffer spoke with McConnell and the senator seemed to indicate that he was ready to proceed.
“Okay … ” he said tentatively.
The first staffer said he was ready to take more questions, and he was asked about Kentucky’s Republican attorney general, Daniel Cameron, who is running for governor.
After his aide loudly repeated the question into his ear, McConnell answered: “I think the governor’s race is going to be very close.”
A spokesman for McConnell told local NBC affiliate WLWT5 that the Senate leader “felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today.” According to WLWT5, an aide to McConnell said that while the senator “feels fine, as a prudential measure, the Leader will be consulting a physician prior to his next event.”
McConnell suffered a similar brain freeze during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on July 26. In that case, fellow senators removed him from the lectern and continued the presser with McConnell standing to the side. About 12 minutes later, the Minority Leader returned to the lectern and, when asked about what happened, said, “I’m fine.
Earlier this year, McConnell suffered a concussion when he fell and hit his head during a political fundraiser at a Washington, D.C., hotel.
The Minority Leader isn’t the only member of Congress struggling with health issues of late.
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, 90, was away from the Senate for three months earlier this year while she recovered from shingles, prompting some Democrat lawmakers to call for her resignation. Feinstein, the oldest member of Congress, was briefly hospitalized earlier this month after a minor fall in her home.
And on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) 57, announced that he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer.
Scalise, 57, said he was being treated for the “very treatable” disease and would continue to work during this months long process. The Louisiana Republican promised he would return to Washington following his treatment to continue his work as Majority Leader.
Congress is scheduled to return to session in September after the August recess, with the Senate back in session Sept. 5 and the House on Sept. 12.