Republican US Senator Mitch McConnell froze up for more than 30 seconds during a public appearance for the second time in a month.
The 81-year-old senator was responding to questions from reporters after an event with the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in Covington when he froze, staring into space and not responding to reporters and others nearby.
After being approached by a second person, McConnell began talking again but needed reporters’ questions repeated to him by an aide and gave a minimal answer in response.
Representatives for McConnell were not immediately available for comment.
The incident was eerily similar to one that took place in the Senate at the end of July, when McConnell also froze in the middle of a press conference and had to be led away, returning several minutes later to finish taking questions.
McConnell’s health has been the subject of speculation in recent months, as he has been seen stumbling and appearing confused on several occasions. He has also been absent from several Senate votes, raising concerns about his ability to continue serving.
McConnell’s office has said that he is in good health and that the incidents are not related to any underlying medical condition.
However, the repeated episodes have raised questions about whether he is fit to serve as Senate majority leader.
The second freezing incident is a further sign of concern about McConnell’s health. It is unclear what caused the incident, but it is possible that it is related to a medical condition or simply stress.
McConnell has been under a lot of pressure in recent months, as he has been leading the Senate’s efforts to pass a budget and confirm judicial nominees.