Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, who froze during a news conference Wednesday and earlier this year suffered a concussion after falling down, has also endured two other falls this year, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.
The first known time, in February, occurred in Finland when McConnell and a US delegation met with the Finnish president in Helsinki, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
As he got out of his car on a snowy day and walked towards his meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, the GOP leader tripped and fell, the sources said of the incident which hasn’t been previously reported. He dusted himself off and continued on with the meeting.
That incident in Finland occurred just days before McConnell fell in March at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Washington, where he slammed his head and suffered a concussion and broken ribs, which sidelined him for nearly six weeks before he returned to the Senate.
And just this month at Reagan National Airport in Washington, McConnell was getting off the plane when he tripped and fell, a source familiar with this incident said. He returned to the Capitol later that day. NBC reported on the fall at the airport earlier on Wednesday.
McConnell’s office declined to comment on the incidents.
McConnell, 81, was a survivor of polio as a child and has long walked with a slight limp. He walks on stairs one at a time, and at times rests his hand on an aide to assist him through the Capitol. His falls have at times caused serious injuries, like in 2019, when McConnell fell at his Louisville home and fractured his shoulder.
But his health has received more attention since his fall at the Waldorf Astoria this year. On Wednesday, McConnell froze when speaking to reporters at his weekly news conference, where he was ushered to the side by concerned GOP senators. He later resumed the news conference and answered questions.
McConnell has declined to explain why he froze up, though an aide said he was feeling light-headed.
“I’m fine,” McConnell told reporters when asked about the incident.
It was the second time in as many months McConnell has had an unusual incident at his weekly news conference. The other incident occurred in June when he has having trouble hearing questions from reporters who could be clearly heard by the senators next to him.
McConnell, who broke the record for longest-serving Senate party leader in history this year, is up for re-election in 2026, but he hasn’t said if he would run again or try to stay as GOP leader in the next Congress, which starts in 2025.
In October, McConnell told CNN he would definitely complete his term for the seat he’s held since 1985. “Oh, I’m certainly going to complete the term I was elected to by the people of Kentucky, no question about that,” McConnell said.
But in May, after he suffered his concussion, McConnell declined to entertain the question about his plans to stay in his seat or run for leader.
“I thought this was not an interview about my future,” he said when asked at the time if he would serve out his term or run for leader again. “I thought it was an interview about the 2024 Senate elections.”