On Wednesday, at a news conference for the Senate Republican leadership, Kentucky Republican and minority leader Mitch McConnell paused unexpectedly. He froze, and when it became clear he was in some peril, his colleagues stepped in, leading him away from the stage.
At age 81, McConnell holds the record for the longest tenure of any party leader in the Senate. He suddenly stopped talking during his introductory comments at his regularly scheduled news conference.
“Well, good afternoon, everyone,” he remarked as he took the platform. He informed me that the NDAA should be completed this week. He said both parties had worked effectively together, and there have been a number of…
Then he paused.
Republican colleagues Joni Ernst (IA), Steve Daines (MT), Jon Thune (SD), Shelly Moore Capito (WV), and John Barrasso (WY) showed apparent discomfort as his silent, unblinking silence lasted longer than what could be considered normal.
Barrasso stepped in to help, calling out to McConnell, asking him if he had anything further to say, suggesting maybe they return to his office.
McConnell made a sound as if he were questioning something and leaned forward, indicating that he had heard the words being uttered to him. Barrasso wondered if he had any more remarks for the media.
Senators Thune and Barrasso placed their hands on McConnell’s arms and led him to the side of the platform.
McConnell reportedly left the press conference for a few minutes to visit his office before returning and assuring reporters he was alright.
Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, a former orthopedic physician, and the Senate’s third-ranking Republican, accompanied McConnell on the laborious stroll back to his office. After a brief break, McConnell picked up the news conference and answered reporters’ questions.
McConnell said he was alright when asked what occurred. He would not elaborate more.
McConnell, 81, missed almost six weeks of Senate work this year after suffering a fall and head injury. According to his office, he suffered a concussion and a broken rib.