WASHINGTON — While Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., received well wishes from most of his colleagues following his second health episode where he froze while speaking to reporters, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., still has questions about the leader’s health − even after he was cleared by doctors.
“I don’t think it’s been particularly helpful to have the Senate doctor describing it as dehydration, which I think even a non-physician seeing that probably aren’t really accepting that explanation,” Paul told reporters Tuesday, according to Punchbowl. The Kentucky senator expressed doubts over a letter from Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the Capitol’s attending physician, that cleared McConnell to continue his duties.
McConnell froze when talking to reporters last week in Kentucky after he was asked about running for reelection in 2026. He appeared to begin to answer, but he stopped and remained silent for seven seconds. The episode in Kentucky was the second time in recent months McConnell froze in front of cameras, previously going silent during a news conference at the Capitol where he abruptly stopped speaking for 28 seconds behind a lectern and was briefly escorted away.
“Everybody’s seen the clips, it’s not a valid medical diagnosis for people to say that’s dehydration,” Axios reported. Paul, a physician himself, said. Paul also referred to McConnell’s first episode at the Capitol.
Despite hailing from the same home state and being of the same party, Paul has frequently been at odds with McConnell when it comes to policy priorities, such as continued U.S. military assistance to Ukraine.
And he wasn’t the only GOP lawmaker to express concern over McConnell’s health and what it means for Senate Republicans.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who voted against McConnell last year to serve as the Senate’s minority leader, said he is just as concerned about McConnell’s health as he is about President Joe Biden’s health.
“You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that you’re concerned about Joe Biden but you’re not concerned about Mitch McConnell. It’s either one or the other,” he said.
Hawley added that he has heard concerns from Missouri residents, including farmers and business groups, about McConnell’s health – even before his second public episode.
“It’s on people’s minds, clearly,” Hawley said.
Hawley said he wishes McConnell the best, but he hopes the minority leader’s health is not a distraction for Republicans ahead of the 2024 elections, adding that the episodes make it difficult to criticize Biden for his age.
“If you’re concerned about the president, then you’ve got to be concerned about other people in leadership. It’s a two way street. It’s not one or the other,” he said.
But other GOP lawmakers defended McConnell, expressing confidence in his ability to serve even as Congress has a heavy agenda in the coming weeks, including averting a government shutdown.
“We might lose from Mitch McConnell 20 seconds a day, but the other 86,380 seconds are pretty darn good so I’m supporting him,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told reporters, “The health scares he’s had were frightening, but age comes for us all, and Mitch is stubborn as a mule and he’s tough. He’s been in my prayers in recent weeks and I have every hope he will recover (to) full strength.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rand Paul doubts doctor after Mitch McConnell freezes in Kentucky