Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stood silent, appearing to freeze up, for about 30 seconds after being asked a question during a Chamber of Commerce event in Covington, Kentucky on Wednesday.
Video of the incident can be viewed here.
The 81-year-old was asked whether he planned to run for reelection when he went silent. An aide came to his side and asked, “Did you hear the question, Senator?” When he remained unresponsive, the aide told those gathered, “All right, I’m sorry, y’all, we’re going to need a minute.”
After a moment McConnell reengaged and responded briefly to a question about Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, though his aide needed to repeat the question to him.
President Biden was asked about the incident while taking questions during his update on Hurricane Idalia and Maui wildfire recovery.
“I just heard coming out,” Biden told reporters. “Mitch is a friend, as you know, not a joke. I know people don’t believe that’s the case. We’ve had disagreements politically but he’s a good friend. I’ll try to get in touch with him later this afternoon. I don’t know enough to know.”
The President response came shortly after press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked the White House Daily Briefing if President Biden was aware of the incident with McConnell.
“I haven’t spoken to the President, so I don’t know if he’s aware of this,” she replied, though she added, “Clearly we wish him well, a speedy recovery. As you know, the two of them have worked together and have known each other for some time. But I can’t speak to a call or a conversation; I just haven’t asked the President about that.”
It was at least the second such incident. In July, McConnell told reporters he was “fine” after freezing during his weekly news conference in the U.S. Capitol building.
On March 8 McConnell was hospitalized after suffering a fall while dining at a DC restaurant. He was diagnosed with concussion and a fractured rib, but was discharged on March 14, after which his office said he would undergo a “period of physical therapy at an inpatient rehabilitation facility before he returns home.”
He was released from that rehab facility on March 25, and returned to the Senate in April after a six-week absence.