A second freeze up — this time at a press conference in Northern Kentucky Wednesday — is raising new questions about Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s health and whether he’ll serve out his term through 2026..
In this latest event, which occurred about one month after a much-publicized, similar freeze up in Washington, D.C., McConnell paused and fell silent for more than 30 seconds after a reporter’s question in Covington, Ky. Wednesday’s press conference resumed after the pause, but not until after an aide intervened and repeated the question to McConnell.
Here’s a look back at some of the influential senator’s recent appearances and health problems, which began with a fall at a Washington-area hotel in March.
March 8: Fall sends McConnell to the hospital with a concussion
At a dinner event in Washington, McConnell tripped and was later admitted into a hospital for treatment. However, the public did not learn the Senate minority leader had suffered a concussion until about 13 hours after his office said he’d reported to the hospital for medical treatment, McClatchy previously reported. At the time, McConnell was expected to remain in the hospital for a few days, his office said in a statement.
The 81-year-old is the longest-serving U.S. Senate leader in history and the longest serving senator from Kentucky. During a previous fall in 2019, McConnell fractured his shoulder at his home in Kentucky and ultimately recovered from the injury.
March 13: McConnell is discharged from hospital stay, heads to therapy
McConnell was discharged from a Washington hospital March 13 and underwent physical therapy at an inpatient rehab facility before returning home, a statement from a spokesperson said at the time.
While remaining in the hospital over the course of the previous weekend, McConnell’s medical team discovered he had also fractured a rib.
April 13: McConnell announces he’ll return to the Senate
After spending more than five weeks recovering from his fall, McConnell announced his return to the Senate the following week.
“I am looking forward to returning to the Senate on Monday,” McConnell tweeted. “We’ve got important business to tackle and big fights to win for Kentuckians and the American people.”
May 23: Staffers assist McConnell at University of Kentucky event
During a groundbreaking event at the University of Kentucky in late May, McConnell briefly spoke to reporters. Members of his staff asked reporters to speak up when asking questions.
The outdoor event took place with several hundred attendees as the senator fielded questions. Staffers had to repeat some questions for McConnell.
July 26: McConnell freezes for more than 20 seconds at Washington press conference
While giving a statement at a press conference held in the U.S. Senate building, McConnell froze for more than 20 seconds and appeared unable to speak before colleagues escorted him away from the podium. McConnell later returned and said “I’m fine.”
Will McConnell seek reelection in 2026?
McConnell has previously dodged questions about whether he’ll seek another term in 2026.
“You’re asking me to predict what I might do three years from now. I don’t have a prediction on that. No news to make,” the GOP leader said in a response to a question from the Herald-Leader at an event in Lexington.
Should McConnell decide to give up his seat before the 2026 election, the governor would select his replacement from a list of three options from the Republican Party, as required by Kentucky law. However, there’s been some speculation that Democrats in the state may challenge that law, with Gov. Andy Beshear leading the charge.
Lexington Herald-Leader reporters Austin Horn, Tessa Duvall and Monica Kast contributed to this report.