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Tuberville says McConnell health concerns ‘putting doubt in the people’

Mitch McConnell’s recent health episodes are a growing matter of concern Sen. Tommy Tubberville told reporters on Wednesday, with questions about the Republican Senate leader’s ability to lead and fundraise through the 2024 election growing more rampant among his Republican colleagues.

“We’ve all got concerns,” Tuberville said when asked about McConnell’s health.

The 81-year-old Republican minority leader from Kentucky has experienced several health episodes since being hospitalized with a concussion back in March, episodes where he appeared to freeze in place during press conferences. The first such incident occurred in July where McConnell had to be escorted out of a press conference after freezing in place. A second, near-identical incident occurred last week at a press conference in Kentucky.

A spokesperson for McConnell attributed both incidents to the Senate minority leader feeling “lightheaded,” though some Republicans, such as Tuberville, have called on McConnell to “look at this situation pretty hard” as to whether he is fit to continue.

“I hope we don’t have any more of these freezing spells, I think it’s putting a lot of doubt in the people across the country, but right now, the ball’s in his court,” Tuberville said. 

“If he can overcome what has happened and we don’t have anything else happen, I think it’s water underneath the bridge. If things like this continue to happen like (they) have happened in the last couple months, I think he’s really going to have to look at this situation pretty hard.”

During a closed-door luncheon Wednesday with Senate Republicans, McConnell tried to assure his colleagues he was fit to continue his role as Senate minority leader, and committed to finishing his term through 2026. While some medical professionals attributed McConnell’s freezing spells to possible seizures or mini strokes, McConnell – in an attempt to quell doubts – shared a letter from Brian Monahan, a Capitol physician, that attributed his health episodes to possible dehydration.

While most Republican senators found the explanation sufficient, some, such as Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, a former ophthalmologist, cast doubt on that explanation.

While still urging him to consider stepping down were health episodes to continue, Tuberville ultimately said the decision should be left up to McConnell as to whether he continues in his role as the most powerful Republican in the country.

“If he can do the job, let’s go on with it and get this behind us,” Tuberville said.

“If he feels like that he might not be able to handle the duties, it’s going to be a very tough year of traveling for the leader, raising money. It’s an election year, it’s a very time-consuming and very hard job. He has struggled for the last six months, but let’s let him make that decision.”

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