Battling Pneumonia, Clinton Falls Ill at 9/11 Memorial

Hillary Clinton

Reuters

BY:

By Amanda Becker

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, diagnosed with pneumonia, became overheated and fell ill at a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony in an episode that renewed focus on her health less than two months before U.S. voters to elect their next president.

Clinton had a medical examination when she got back to her home in Chappaqua, New York, according to a campaign aide. Her doctor, Lisa Bardack, said in a statement that she has been experiencing a cough related to allergies and that an examination on Friday showed that she was suffering from pneumonia.

"She was put on antibiotics and advised to rest and modify her schedule. While at this morning's event, she became overheated and dehydrated. I have just examined her and she is now re-hydrated and recovering nicely," Bardack said.

The 68-year-old Clinton abruptly departed the high-profile, televised event in New York City earlier Sunday and a video on social media appears to show her swaying and her knees buckling before she is helped into a motorcade event.

She was taken to her daughter Chelsea's home in Manhattan and emerged around two hours later on a warm and muggy morning, wearing sunglasses and telling reporters that she was "feeling great."

The video came from an unverified Twitter account under the name Zdenek Gazda, who did not respond to a request for comment. The Clinton campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the authenticity of the video.

Political strategists said the campaign should confront the health issue head-on to tamp down any concerns, particularly as Republican rival Donald Trump and some of his high-profile supporters have repeatedly argued that she lacked the "stamina" to battle adversaries abroad.

"The bottom line is the Clinton campaign is going to have to be completely forthright about Clinton’s health," said Bud Jackson, a Virginia-based Democratic strategist.

Jackson suggested that "it would not be a bad move" if the campaign released more information in a crucial time of the race in which conservatives have touted conspiracies about Clinton's health.

They have implied in recent weeks that Clinton's coughing spells on the campaign trail were a sign of deeper problems.

PRESIDENTIAL PRECEDENTS

Past presidential candidates have released much more detailed information about their health than either Trump, 70, or Clinton.

For example, John McCain, the failed 2008 Republican presidential nominee, allowed reporters to see 1,173 pages of medical records after concerns were raised about a cancer scare.

Republican strategist Art Hackney of Alaska, who chaired former President George W. Bush's campaigns there, doubted Sunday's health scare will fade away quickly, saying that the Trump campaign "will milk it."

"These things tend to be fanned; the flames fanned like crazy by those who will use it to make one story take attention away from other stories," he said.

He added, however, "I just can’t for the life of me think this impacts any American who isn’t already on one side or the other" in the Clinton-Trump race for the White House.

Clinton had no more events on her schedule for Sunday and went, as previously planned, to her home in Chappaqua, 30 miles (50 km) north of New York City.

She is scheduled to begin a trip to California and Nevada on Monday.

As the solemn ceremony began at the site of the World Trade Center that was attacked by two hijacked airliners 15 years ago, there was patchy sunlight, with temperatures at about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 Celsius). But the high humidity early into the ceremony caused it to feel much hotter in the crowd at times.

Clinton wore a high-collared shirt and a dark pant suit and donned sunglasses for the morning event.

Democratic Representative Joe Crowley of New York, a Clinton supporter who attended the event, told Reuters that it was "incredibly, stiflingly hot" during the ceremony.

CAPPING DIFFICULT DAYS

Clinton has been in the news before for serious health issues.

In December 2012, she suffered a concussion and shortly afterward developed a blood clot.

In a letter released by her doctor in July 2015, Clinton was described as being in "excellent health" and "fit to serve" in the White House. It noted that her current medical conditions include hyperthyroidism and seasonal pollen allergies.

However brief her illness was on Sunday, it comes in the wake of some tough days for Clinton, as national polls showed her lead over Trump diminishing. A Reuters/Ipsos poll of likely voters showed an 8-point lead for Clinton had vanished by the last week of August.

On Saturday, Clinton came under fire from Republicans and on social media for saying Friday night that "half" of Trump's supporters belonged in a "basket of deplorables." She later said she regretted using the word "half."

Clinton's speech at a campaign rally earlier this month in Cleveland was interrupted by a coughing spell. During the speech, she quipped, "Every time I think about Trump I get allergic." She then resumed her speech.

That episode fueled speculation from conservative political quarters about her health. Trump supporters have been tweeting unsubstantiated theories regarding Clinton's health under the hashtag #HillarysHealth.

Trump has also been under pressure to release detailed information on his health and medical history.

Instead, in December, Trump's doctor wrote in a short letter that was made public that his blood pressure and laboratory results "were astonishingly excellent" and that he would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Alana Wise, Emily Stephenson and Sarah Lynch in Washington; Writing by Richard Cowan; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Mary Milliken)

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