Clinton’s illness makes candidates’ health a campaign issue | us-presidential-election | Hindustan Times
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Clinton’s illness makes candidates’ health a campaign issue

us-presidential-election Updated: Sep 12, 2016 22:02 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton climbs into her van outside her daughter Chelsea's home in New York after she left ceremonies commemorating the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. (Reuters)

Hillary Clinton has been under treatment for pneumonia, her doctor said on Sunday after the Democratic nominee abruptly left a 9/11 memorial service in New York, raising questions about her health and its effect on her campaign.

As she recovers at home in Chappaqua, New York, missing campaign events planned for this week on the West Coast, the campaigns of both Clinton and her Republican rival Donald Trump are under pressure to disclose more about the health of their nominees, beyond what they have so far.

Asked if the health of a candidate was an issue, Trump said in a television interview on Monday, “I think it's an issue. In fact…this last week I took a physical and…when the numbers come in I'll be releasing very, very specific numbers.”

Trump was surprisingly restrained in his remarks about Clinton’s illness, saying, “I just hope she gets well and gets back on the trail, and we'll be seeing her at the debate.”

Both nominees released letters from their doctors in 2015 that said they were in “excellent” health. But neither was detailed enough — Clinton’s was a little longer, two pages to Trump’s four paragraphs. Questions have continued to be raised specially because of their age — Clinton is 68 and Trump 70.

Clinton seemed shaky on her feet as she left the 9/11 memorial service and was hoisted into the van before being driven off to her daughter Chelsea’s nearby apartment. Her campaign at first said she had felt “overheated”.

Her doctor later said in a statement: “Secretary Clinton has been experiencing a cough related to allergies. On Friday, during follow-up evaluation of her prolonged cough, she was diagnosed with 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.”

Leaving Chelsea’s apartment earlier, before being examined by her doctor, Clinton had waved at bystanders and posed for pictures and said, “I’m feeling great.”

But that was not going to be enough to stop questions being raised about her health. “Hillary Clinton’s health just became a real issue in the presidential campaign,” ran a headline in The Washington Post, a publication Trump has frequently accused of being unfair to him.

According to a letter from her doctor released in January 2015 that had said Clinton was in excellent health, the nominee’s “current medical condition (then) include hypothyroidism and seasons pollen allergies”. 

Her past medical history included a deep vein thrombosis in 1998 and 2009, an elbow fracture in 2009 and a concussion suffered in 2012, when she was still secretary of state, according to the same note.

Trump released his doctor’s letter in December 2015, which came under scrutiny recently for its bombastic tone — packed with superlatives such as “extraordinary” and “ excellent”. It said Trump would be the “healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency”. The doctor has since said he wrote the letter in five minutes flat, as a Trump campaign car waited outside.

But Trump has now promised to release more details, which is likely to put Clinton under pressure to reciprocate or allow right-wing conspiracy theories about her health to take root.