Viral photos show McConnell picking up a face mask, revealing his right hand to be much darker than the rest of his body, as well as a bandaged thumb.
Mitch McConnell, the 78-year-old Senate Majority Leader currently running for reelection, is denying any health issues despite photos showing his hand bandaged and severely discolored.
On Wednesday, photos went viral of McConnell bending down to pick up a dropped face mask on Capitol Hill the day prior, revealing his right hand to be much darker than the rest of his body and that his thumb is bandaged.
McConnell’s office did not respond to numerous requests for comment from BuzzFeed News about the health of the top Senate Republican, who is up for reelection in Kentucky in just under two weeks.
However, when asked by a reporter on Thursday about his health and the concerning photos of his hand, McConnell denied there was an issue.
“Do you have some kind of health issue?” asked Politico reporter John Bresnahan. “Everyone been’s talking about your hands.”
“I’ve been worried about your health, Bres. How are you feeling?” replied McConnell, using the reporter’s nickname.
“But I’m serious, is there anything going on we should know about?” asked Bresnahan.
“Of course not,” replied McConnell.
However, the discoloration and bandages were still somewhat visible in C-SPAN video of McConnell speaking on the Senate floor on Thursday morning.
McConnell’s health may be a relevant issue for voters in Kentucky, where early voting began on Oct. 13.
“It’s understandable that Senator McConnell might not want to discuss questions about his health so close to an election,” said Marisa McNee, a spokesperson for Kentucky Democratic Party. “But as Senate Majority Leader, he is a public figure which requires more disclosure and transparency than just the average private person.”
McNee also noted that McConnell has spoken openly in the past about his medical care, such as undergoing surgery following a shoulder fracture.
“It’s not clear why he’s suddenly become so secretive, but we certainly wish him well and hope he is okay,” said McNee.
In most photos taken of McConnell in recent days, he is shown with his right hand hidden in his suit pocket.
But numerous photos taken this week show McConnell’s discolored hand.
During a televised debate earlier this month with his opponent Amy McGrath, 45, McConnell’s hands looked normal.
The health of the country’s aging politicians has been brought into sharp focus in recent weeks, particularly after President Donald Trump, 74, was hospitalized for several days and received experimental drug treatments after testing positive for COVID-19.
If elected president, Joe Biden will become the oldest person to ever lead the nation, at 77.
At the beginning of the current Congress in 2018, the average age of a US senator was 61.8 years. They are “among the oldest in US history,” according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service.
McConnell leads a Senate that includes multiple octogenarians and which is currently working to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, 48, to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court less than two weeks out from an election. McConnell previously led the charge to stop former president Barack Obama from nominating a justice to the court in the final year of his presidency. On Thursday, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve Judge Barrett’s nomination to the court. Democrats boycotted the vote, calling it “illegitimate,” but a vote to finalize her nomination will take place on Monday.
Recently concerns were raised about Dianne Feinstein’s capabilities due to her age — the Californian senator is 87 — during the hearings for a new SCOTUS appointee, where she is the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
When other senators were asked if they believed her age was affecting her job, Politico quoted Sen. Chuck Grassley responding: “She’s only three months older than I am, and I haven’t announced I’m not running for reelection.”