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McConnell ‘fine’ after freezing during news conference

(CNN) — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that he’s “fine,” after freezing during a news conference on Wednesday.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, stopped speaking in the middle of remarks at his regularly scheduled weekly news conference on Capitol Hill. After a 30-second pause, his colleagues crowded around to see if he was OK and asked him how he felt. GOP Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming was seen gripping McConnell’s arm and whispered to him, “Hey Mitch, anything else you want to say? Or should we just go back to your office? Do you want to say anything else to the press?”

He said nothing, and was led away from the press conference and toward his office by an aide. He returned to the news conference a few minutes later.

McConnell, asked by CNN what happened and if it is related to his fall earlier this year, said “No, I’m fine,” and then moved on to other reporters.

A McConnell aide said that the senator “felt light headed and stepped away for a moment.”

“He came back to handle Q and A, which as everyone observed was sharp,” the aide said.

As he left the Capitol, the Senate Republican leader told reporters he was “fine” and said he had spoken with President Joe Biden. “So, the president called to check on me. I told him I got sandbagged,” he said, smiling, in reference to a quip Biden made after tripping over a sandbag early last month.

Asked repeatedly how he was feeling and whether he would be speaking to a doctor, McConnell said: “I’m fine.”

He returned to the Capitol Wednesday evening for late votes but did not answer any questions about his health upon arrival.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier told reporters that he was not concerned about McConnell’s health and said he had met with him after the press conference for “a regular meeting.”

McConnell, 81, has faced questions over his health after suffering a concussion and broken ribs from a fall he endured earlier this year. He was hospitalized and forced to go to rehab for several weeks before returning to the Senate in the spring.

McConnell, who is up for reelection in 2026, has repeatedly declined to say if he will run for another term or try to run for GOP leader again in the next Congress, which begins in 2025. While he told CNN last fall he would definitely finish out his term, in an interview in May – after he suffered the concussion – he didn’t want to engage.

“I thought this was not an interview about my future,” he said when asked if he would serve out his term or run for leader again. “I thought it was an interview about the 2024 Senate elections.”

This story has been updated with additional developments.