Wisconsin congressman blames coughing fit on dry throat

One clip of him coughing that circulated on Twitter had been viewed more than 4.3 million times

MADISON, Wis. -- A Wisconsin congressman whose coughing fit at the state Republican Party convention drew widespread attention because masks were not required at the event was suffering from nothing more than a dry throat, his campaign said Monday.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, 65, began coughing uncontrollably Saturday when he began his speech at the convention before about 300 attendees at a Green Bay conference center. The event proceeded even as Wisconsin has seen a spike in coronavirus cases, breaking a daily record for newly confirmed cases for a third straight day on the day of the convention.

“It's time to talk about Donald John Trump,” said an unmasked Grothman, before coughing for about 10 seconds and loosening his tie. Grothman regained his composure and proceeded to give a defense of Trump's first term in office on a variety of issues.

One clip of him coughing that circulated on Twitter had been viewed more than 4.3 million times as of Monday morning. Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, who represents the Madison area in Congress, commented on Grothman's coughing with, “Wow.”

“Congressman Grothman’s cough was due to a dry throat and a need for a drink of water,” Grothman’s campaign manager Alec Hanna said in an email Monday. “It has not persisted and he is exhibiting no other symptoms associated with COVID-19. He previously took a COVID-19 test, with a negative result.”

Grothman’s district includes rural, urban and suburban areas between Madison, Green Bay and Milwaukee.

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Attendees at the state GOP convention were provided masks but not required to wear them. The Wisconsin Democratic Party held an all-virtual state convention in June due to concerns over COVID-19. The Democratic National Convention is slated to be held in Milwaukee in August, but will be greatly scaled back due to the pandemic.