Physician Rand Paul isn’t buying Mitch McConnell’s claims freezing episode was caused by dehydration

‘I’ve practiced medicine for 25 years and it doesn’t look like dehydration to me’

Bevan Hurley
Wednesday 06 September 2023 15:15 BST
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Mitch McConnell appears to freeze again as he is asked about running for re-election

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Louise Thomas

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GOP Senator Rand Paul has cast doubt on the Capitol physician’s claims that Mitch McConnell’s latest freezing episode was caused by dehydration.

“I’ve practiced medicine for 25 years and it doesn’t look like dehydration to me,” Mr Paul told reporters on Tuesday. “It looks like a focal neurologic event.”

Mr McConnell, the 81-year-old Senate minority leader, froze for a second time at a press conference in Kentucky last week, raising concerns about his ability to see out his seventh term in office.

Congress physician Brian Monahan released a letter on Tuesday stating there was “no evidence” that he had suffered from a seizure disorder or had a stroke.

Dr Monahan said that Mr McConnell underwent brain imaging as part of his assessment that also ruled out Parkinson’s Disease, adding he was “medically clear” to continue with his schedule.

Mr Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, told reporters in the Capitol that he didn’t necessarily believe the Republican leader’s condition was “incapacitating”.

Mitch McConnell appears to freeze again as he is asked about running for re-election
Mitch McConnell appears to freeze again as he is asked about running for re-election (WLWT5)

“But it means that somebody ought to wake up and say, ‘Wow, this looks like a seizure’,” he added.

“I think even non-physicians seeing that probably aren't really accepting that explanation.

“Everybody's seen the clips, it's not a valid medical diagnosis for people to say that's dehydration.”

On 26 July, Mr McConnell froze for 20 seconds during a Senate Republican press conference at the Capitol, prompting fears he had suffered a medical event.

Mr McConnell appeared unable to speak for about 20 seconds and was helped from the podium by GOP colleagues. He returned a few minutes later, and insisted he was fine.

Rand Paul has called into question Mitch McConnell’s dehydration diagnosis
Rand Paul has called into question Mitch McConnell’s dehydration diagnosis (AP)

Mr McConnell took six weeks off his Senate duties after suffering a concussion and fractured a rib when he fell and hit his head after a dinner event at a hotel in March. He was hospitalised for several days.

It subsequently emerged that the GOP Senate leader also suffered a “face plant” when he boarded a flight at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on 14 July.

Mr McConnell also fell during a visit to Helsinki in February where he was leading a delegation of GOP senators.

His most recent freezing episode occurred during a press conference in Kentucky on 30 August.

When Mr McConnell was asked whether he planned to run for another six-year term beginning in 2027, he asked the reporter to repeat the question, before staring blankly for several seconds as his words trailed off.

He then stood motionless for several seconds before an aide repeated the question in his ear. Mr McConnell did not appear to acknowledge her, and the aide then whisked him away.

Mr McConnell has repeatedly insisted he will remain as GOP Senate leader and see out his term, which ends in 2027.

The Kentucky senator faced a leadership challenge from Florida senator Rick Scott last November.

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