By Tom Ozimek
Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley called the U.S. Senate “the most privileged nursing home in the country” after 81-year-old Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Republican leader in the upper chamber, suffered a second freeze.
After briefly freezing up mid-sentence several weeks ago in Washington, Mr. McConnell again experienced a similar episode in Covington, Kentucky, on Aug. 30. After a reporter on Wednesday asked Mr. McConnell whether he would run for reelection in 2026, the Republican lawmaker asked the reporter to repeat the question, before trailing off and staring straight ahead silently.
An aide standing beside Mr. McConnell asked him whether he heard the question and repeated it to him and, when he did not answer, the aide told reporters “We’re going to need a minute” while Mr. McConnell continued to stand motionless and looking straight ahead without uttering a word.
Following the Republican leader’s second freezing episode, Ms. Haley was asked during an interview on Fox News about the incident.
“It’s sad,” Ms. Haley, former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the United Nations, told Fox News.
“No one should feel good about seeing that any more than we should feel good about seeing Dianne Feinstein, any more than we should feel good about a lot of what’s happening or seeing [President] Joe Biden’s decline,” she added.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who at 90 years old is the oldest member of Congress, has been suffering from health issues and has faced calls to step down before her term ends.
‘You Have to Know When to Leave’
In her interview on Fox News, Ms. Haley appeared to mock the Senate, calling it “the most privileged nursing home in the country.”
She said that Mr. McConnell “has done some great things and he deserves credit.”
“But you have to know when to leave,” she added.
Ms. Haley’s call for Mr. McConnell to resign is one that several Republicans have made since the freezing incident.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to say that “severe aging health issues and/or mental health incompetence in our nation’s leaders MUST be addressed.”
“Biden, McConnell, Feinstein, and Fetterman are examples of people who are not fit for office and it’s time to be serious about it,” she added.
Others calling for Mr. McConnell’s resignation include political commentator Bill O’Reilly, who told New Nation that “every American should email Senator McConnell’s office tomorrow, every American and say, ‘Please, please resign for the sake of your health.'”
While Mr. O’Reilly called for term limits on congressional representatives, Ms. Haley said in her interview on Fox News that there should be mental competency tests for members of Congress who are over 75 years old.
“I wouldn’t care if they did them over the age of 50,” she added, arguing that lawmakers make important decisions about the economy and national security and so need to be “at the top of their game.”
For his part, Mr. McConnell has been cleared to continue with his schedule as planned by Congress’s attending physician, Dr. Brian Monahan.
“I have consulted with Leader McConnell and conferred with his neurology team,” Dr. Monahan wrote in a note viewed by The Epoch Times.
“After evaluating yesterday’s incident, I have informed Leader McConnell that he is medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned,” Dr. Monahan added.
‘Being Hard-Headed Has Served Me Very Well’
Following the first freezing incident, an aide for Mr. McConnell said that the top Republican in the Senate has no plans to step down.
“Leader McConnell appreciates the continued support of his colleagues, and plans to serve his full term in the job they overwhelmingly elected him to do,” the spokesperson said in a statement to news outlets.
An aide told reporters that, after Mr. McConnell froze up in Washington at the end of July, he “felt lightheaded” but later “was sharp” when he returned.
Earlier, Mr. McConnell suffered a concussion and broken ribs after taking a fall in March, which resulted in a brief stay in hospital.
“I’m very happy to be back,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor in Washington in April, after returning following the fall. “There’s important business for Congress to tackle.”
“Suffice it to say, this wasn’t the first time that being hard-headed has served me very well,” he also said.
After serving in the Ford administration as a deputy assistant attorney general, Mr. McConnell was elected to the Senate in 1984.
He eventually took the position of top Republican senator in 2006.