Biden suggests Sen. McConnell freezing up at press conference is part of recovery from 'severe concussion'

September 1, 2023
Ben Marquis

For the second time in little more than a month, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appeared to freeze up at a press conference in Kentucky on Wednesday and was unable to move or speak for a brief period of time.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden addressed the concerning situation with his former Senate colleague and suggested that it was due to a "severe concussion" McConnell suffered earlier this year, according to the Daily Caller.

Biden further revealed that he had spoken directly with McConnell and that he had no concerns with regard to the capabilities of the top Senate Republican to do his job or eventually recover and "be back to his old self."

Biden blames concussion recovery for McConnell's freeze

President Biden on Thursday delivered remarks at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington D.C. with regard to the hurricane that had just hit several Southeastern states as well as the recent deadly wildfires that scorched a portion of Maui in the Hawaiian Islands.

He took a few questions from reporters after his prepared remarks were finished, including whether he had spoken with Sen. McConnell, and Biden replied, "Yes, I have. I spoke to Mitch. He’s a friend. And I -- I spoke to him today. And, you know, he was his old self on the telephone."

"And having a little understanding of dealing with neurosurgeons and people and -- and one of the leading women on my staff, her husband is a neurosurgeon as well," he continued. "It’s not un- -- at all unusual to have the response that sometimes happens to Mitch when you’ve had a severe concussion. It’s part of -- it’s part of the recovery."

"And so, I’m confident he’s going to be back to his old self," Biden added. He also said "No" and "I don't" when asked if he had any "concerns" about McConnell's ability to do his job.

McConnell freezes

The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Sen. McConnell had been speaking at an event in Kentucky and fielding questions from reporters, including whether he planned to seek re-election to another six-year Senate term in 2026.

McConnell did not answer that question and instead stood silent and stared straight ahead for about 10 seconds until an aide approached him, repeated the question loudly, and then told reporters that "we’re going to need a minute" as the senator remained frozen and unable to speak for roughly 30 seconds total.

According to the journalist who shared the incident video, McConnell attempted to answer a couple more questions a few moments later but, per the AP, "appeared to have some difficulty speaking" until the aide intervened again to abruptly end the press conference.

Not the first time McConnell has frozen up

The AP noted that a similar incident had occurred roughly one month prior when Sen. McConnell froze up and was unable to speak for about 30 seconds during a press conference at the Capitol while surrounded by his Senate GOP leadership team, members of whom eventually stepped in to usher the senator away from the podium.

In both instances, McConnell's office claimed afterward that the senator had simply felt "lightheaded" for a moment and was otherwise "fine," without divulging any additional details about his overall health status and well-being.

As was alluded to by President Biden, the AP noted that McConnell suffered a broken rib and severe concussion after he fell at an event in March, injuries that kept him out of work for nearly six weeks and from which he quite clearly is still dealing with and recovering from.

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