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After freezing moments, McConnell vows to stay Republican Senate leader

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WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Pushing back on concerns about his health, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he would not resign his Senate seat nor step aside as the top Senate Republican.

“I’m going to finish my term as leader,” McConnell said. “And I’m going to finish my Senate term.”  

In July, the 81-year-old Kentuckian froze during a news conference in the U.S. Capitol for about 20 seconds. Last week, he went silent for about 30 seconds when answering a reporter’s question about whether he planned to run for reelection.

Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician of Capitol Hill, said in a letter Tuesday that he examined McConnell and there was “no evidence” of a stroke, seizure disorder or movement disorder like Parkinson’s disease. McConnell told reporters he had “nothing to add” to the report when asked about what caused the freezing incidents.   

But the recent health concerns of lawmakers have sparked political debate on the issue of age and their ability to serve. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the Senate’s oldest member at 90, has ignored calls to resign despite repeatedly appearing confused and forgetful since her return to Washington in May after a months-long absence due to shingles.

As the 2024 presidential race kicks into high gear, there is a possibility of a rematch between some of the oldest candidates in American history. President Joe Biden, 80, is already the oldest sitting president in the White House, and he hopes to remain in office until 86. His likely Republican opponent, former president Donald Trump, trails him in age by only 3 1/2 years.

Biden tried to defuse questions about his age in a Labor Day speech in Philadelphia saying, “the only thing that comes with age, is a little bit of wisdom.”

Overall, 80% of registered voters said they are concerned about Biden’s age affecting his ability to serve another four-year term effectively, according to the latest NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ Poll released Tuesday.  

About 63% of those surveyed felt the same way about Trump.  

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