Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnellReuters

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has no plans to step down after this week’s incident in which he froze midsentence during a press conference, The Associated Press reported on Friday.

In a statement, his office said McConnell appreciates the continued support of his colleagues and “plans to serve his full term in the job they overwhelmingly elected him to do.”

The incident occurred on Wednesday, when at his weekly press conference, McConnell froze and stared vacantly for about 20 seconds before his Republican colleagues standing behind him grabbed his elbows and asked if he wanted to go back to his office. He later returned to the news conference and answered questions as if nothing had happened.

When asked about the episode, he said he was “fine,” a statement he repeated in a hallway to reporters later that day.

Neither McConnell nor his office would answer questions about whether he got medical help afterward, according to AP.

The episode raised new questions among his colleagues about his health and also whether McConnell, who was first elected to the Senate in 1984 and has served as Republican leader since 2007, might soon step aside from his leadership post.

He was elected to a two-year term as leader in January by a large majority and would be up for re-election as leader again after the 2024 elections.

By then, he will have to decide also if he wants to run again for another Senate term. He is up for re-election in 2026.

Wednesday’s episode came several months after McConnell, 81, tripped and fell after an event at the Waldorf Astoria in Washington. He was hospitalized with a concussion and a minor rib fracture and was discharged five days later before entering rehab.

McConnell did not return to the Senate until mid-April.

AP noted he has been using a wheelchair in the airport while commuting back and forth to Kentucky and his speech has sounded more halting in recent weeks.

The Republican leader carried on with his full schedule after the episode on Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he spoke with McConnell at an event for Thursday evening for Major League Baseball owners.

“I said I’m so glad you’re here,” Schumer said. “And he made a very good speech.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said he talked to McConnell on Wednesday night and he seemed “strong and alert.” But he said what happened at the news conference on Wednesday was disturbing to watch.

“Mitch is strong, he’s stubborn as a mule,” Cruz said. “My prayers are with them. I hope that — we’re going into the August recess — I hope he has time to fully recuperate.”

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)