The editors of the conservative magazine National Review are calling on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to step aside from leadership following his frozen episode at a Kentucky event earlier this week, just months after he experienced a similar moment on Capitol Hill.
McConnell, 81, was cleared to return to work by U.S. Capitol attending physician Brian Monahan, but questions remain about his ability to continue serving as GOP Senate leader.
McConnell on Wednesday appeared to pause and grow unresponsive following a reporter’s question about whether he intends to seek reelection in 2026.
In a similar incident earlier this year, McConnell was escorted away from a press conference in Capitol Hill after he stopped speaking in the middle of a sentence. He returned to the event a few minutes later and answered questions as normal.
In a piece published Thursday, the National Review editors noted McConnell’s contributions to the upper chamber and the Republican Party, calling him “a legend.” But, they said, the two public episodes he suffered are “not normal.”
“The time has come for the Kentucky senator, after his long, impressive run, to make the decision to step aside from leadership,” the editorial reads.
The magazine’s editors said McConnell can do so on his own timeline, and that he could even remain a member of the Senate as other former congressional leaders have elected to do.
“The details can be left to McConnell, who deserves a large measure of deference,” the editorial reads. “A leadership transition doesn’t need to happen urgently, but the wheels should be turning.”
Monahan on Thursday said McConnell is “medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned.”
“Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration,” Monahan said in a statement shared by McConnell’s office.
The frozen episodes are not the only health challenges McConnell has had to confront this year.
In March, the Kentucky Republican was hospitalized after falling at a private dinner in Washington, suffering a concussion and a minor rib fracture. He returned to the Senate after about six weeks. McConnell has appeared to walk more slowly and to have had trouble hearing since his accident.
He has reportedly suffered two other falls this year, the first in February in Helsinki and the second in July at a Washington airport.
While most Republicans continue to stand by McConnell, 2024 GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley suggested that it could be time for him and other aging lawmakers to step aside.
“What I will say is, right now, the Senate is the most privileged nursing home in the country,” Haley told Fox News’ “The Story” this week. “I mean, Mitch McConnell has done some great things, and he deserves credit. But you have to know when to leave.”