Wyoming's senior U.S. senator John Barrasso rescued Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, on Wednesday afternoon when McConnell inexplicably froze up during a press conference.
McConnell was delivering his weekly press conference with Senate leaders when he suddenly quit speaking and stared blankly in front of the press.
After about 20 seconds, Barrasso, a physician, said, “Are you OK, Mitch? Is there anything else you want to say to the press or should we just head back to your office?"
“I’ll take him back,” Barrasso said to the other senators.
Barrasso then gently grabbed McConnell and walked the 81-year-old back to his office.
Minutes later, McConnell returned to the podium, finished his remarks and answered questions, including one about the freeze-up.
“I’m fine,” McConnell said.
Barrasso's communications director, Laura Mengelkamp, told Cowboy State Daily that Barrasso was just looking out for his longtime colleague.
“Senator Barrasso was expressing his concern for a friend. Thankfully, Leader McConnell returned quickly and was able to answer every question that the press asked him," Mengelkamp said.
Barrasso later told reporters that he walked McConnell down the hall because he wanted to make sure he was OK.
“I just wanted to make sure everything was fine with him, and it was,” Barrasso said afterward.
“I’ve been concerned since the first time — since he was injured a number of months ago,” he added. “I continue to be concerned.”
McConnell has struggled of late due to a concussion he suffered after falling at a dinner in a Washington hotel in March.
As a result, he was unable to work in his Senate office for almost six weeks.
Jimmy Orr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.