Tuesday 27 September 2016

Clinton's health centre stage as doubts raised over her stamina

Ruth Sherlock and Nick Allen

Published 13/09/2016 | 02:30

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at the University of South Florida last week Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at the University of South Florida last week Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik

Hillary Clinton last night promised to release further medical information after opponents accused her of hiding serious health issues from the American people.

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The 68-year-old Democratic presidential nominee abruptly left a 9/11 anniversary ceremony on Sunday and her campaign waited hours before revealing that she was suffering from pneumonia, compounding concerns about her fitness to serve as Commander-in-Chief.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs Clinton, acknowledged yesterday that information should have been released more quickly and said the campaign would provide the public with a more detailed health record "this week".

Recovering

He dismissed internet conspiracy theories that Mrs Clinton was suffering from a brain tumour or dementia, saying there was "no undisclosed condition, pneumonia is the extent of it". Lisa Bardack, Mrs Clinton's doctor, said the nominee was "recovering nicely" and that she had put the candidate on a course of antibiotics and advised her to "modify her schedule".

Mr Fallon said several senior Clinton staff at campaign headquarters in New York had also fallen ill in recent weeks, including himself and Mrs Clinton's campaign manager Robby Mook. He said it was not known if that was the source of Mrs Clinton's infection.

Donald Trump, her Republican opponent, offered his condolences saying he wanted her to "get better". He announced he had undergone a detailed physical examination and would release results this week. The schedule of a presidential candidate is gruelling, Mr Trump said: "You know, if you look at my scheduling and compare it to anybody else's scheduling, there's not a contest. So, you know, I have found the whole challenge [of campaigning] to be very invigorating."

Mrs Clinton's attendance at the commemoration of the September 11 attacks was meant to be a show of strength. Instead, as the names of the victims were read out at the New York ceremony, Mrs Clinton left early. Video footage showed Mrs Clinton being hoisted into a black van by secret service aides, her feet dragging along the ground.

One police official described her being thrown into the car "like a side of beef," losing a shoe under the vehicle.

Her campaign said in the hours after the episode that Mrs Clinton had simply "overheated" at the ceremony.

But later that afternoon Huma Abedin, one of Mrs Clinton's closest aides, circulated an email to campaign staff attaching a doctor's note showing that the presidential candidate had been diagnosed with the illness the previous Friday.

The revelation that the campaign sought to cover up the event, analysts said yesterday, could continue to damage Mrs Clinton long after her health has improved.

"If we look back through the history of presidential candidates falling ill, it raises momentary questions, but then they tend to pass as they get better," Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute told reporters.

"But the Clinton campaign hiding this from the public draws a strong line under this idea that she is overly secretive. And that goes to the heart of questions about her honesty and trustworthiness, which is why many Americans are not supporting her."

The incident comes just 58 days before the presidential election, as Donald Trump's support has surged in several polls.

A pair of Democratic states in the past two presidential races - Nevada and New Hampshire - are now too close to call, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll.

Trail

Mr Fallon said the Democratic nominee would be back on the trail later this week after calling off a trip to California. In the meantime, the campaign will rest on the shoulders of her high profile surrogates.

President Barack Obama is due to campaign for his former rival and secretary of state today in Philadelphia. His wife, Michelle Obama, will hit the campaign trail next week.

The public does not, however, know much about Mrs Clinton's medical history. Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump have both resisted requests for a comprehensive release of medical information that is traditional for nominees.

Physical fitness has become a key issue in the 2016 election, with both candidates among the oldest nominees in US history.

Mr Trump's medical check was carried out by Harold Bornstein, the same New York doctor who previously released a letter saying he would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency".

On Thursday, Mr Trump will appear on television with celebrity doctor Dr Mehmet Oz to discuss his "personal health regimen". Mr Trump has frequently cast doubt on Mrs Clinton's physical fitness, saying she lacks "stamina" and takes naps in the afternoon and runs on an easy schedule - claims debunked by journalists following her on the road. But such claims from the Trump campaign have helped fuel conspiracy theories about Mrs Clinton's health.

Telegraph.co.uk

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