Press rips Clinton campaign’s handling of health incident

Why didn’t they just say she had pneumonia?

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is coming under fire for failing to disclose that she was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday, and for saying she simply got “overheated” at the 9/11 memorial service in New York, when video showed her knees buckling as aides helped her into a waiting van.


It wasn’t until shortly after 11:00 a.m. ET Sunday that the campaign put out a terse statement saying that Clinton had “departed to go to her daughter’s apartment, and is feeling much better.” There was no explicit acknowledgment that Clinton had left the ceremony earlier than planned, nor any mention of what looked to be a fainting spell.

Clinton herself sought to project that all was well, stepping outside of her Chelsea’s apartment some 45 minutes later. “I’m feeling great, it’s a beautiful day in New York,” she said, taking a moment to greet a small girl before piling back into the van to head home to Westchester County.

Not until 5:15 p.m. did the campaign revealed that she had in fact been diagnosed with pneumonia and put on antibiotics a day earlier, after what her doctor called a “follow-up evaluation of her prolonged cough.”

Lisa Bardack, Clinton’s physician, said that she had indeed become “overheated and dehydrated” on Sunday morning, but made no mention of her apparent collapse. “I have just examined her and she is now re-hydrated and recovering nicely,” Bardack said. Sunday’s examination, an aide said, took place at Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, New York.

At 10:16 p.m., the campaign said that “Clinton will not be traveling to California tomorrow or Tuesday.” Clinton was scheduled to raise cash in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, and her campaign had previewed that she would also deliver a speech on the economy Tuesday. Clinton’s Wednesday trip to Las Vegas is, for now, still on her schedule.

Around midnight, however, fundraisers who were planning to attend Clinton’s San Francisco event on Monday received an email saying the event is still on, but that Clinton would now appear via teleconference.

Frustration with the Clinton campaign’s handling of the incident boiled over among political journalists on Twitter.

Jonathan Martin, national correspondent for the New York Times, tweeted, “Hillary camp now reveals that her doctor diagnosed her pneumonia on Friday & put her on antibiotics. Only disclosed after this am’s episode.”

“I don’t understand why Clinton aides weren’t telling reporters at 10:30am: ‘pneumonia,’” CNN media reporter Brian Stelter wrote.

“Of course they should have disclosed this. This isn’t a cold,” added Chuck Todd, the host of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The campaign ignored requests for explanation, but its allies defended its actions online.

#Hillary‘s health is fine. The hysteria in the media and the attacks about it from #Trump supporters are not,” Democratic PR consultant Hilary Rosen tweeted before Clinton’s pneumonia was disclosed.

“Is there really a tradition of candidates publicly disclosing illnesses like colds, flu’s etc?” tweeted former White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer. “Every candidate I have ever worked for has gotten sick on the trail and worked through it because you can’t take days off in a close race.”

“[S]o which illnesses that are treated with antibiotics do you have to disclose? All?” former White House chief speechwriter Jon Favreau asked.

“From a medical point of view this is not a big deal, She needs to cancel some events or do them by Skype for a week,” observed former Vermont governor Howard Dean, a trained doctor.

“I think I coughed up a lung somewhere between Pennsylvania and Kentucky,” recalled former Clinton ‘08 staffer Mo Elleithee, who also lauded her stamina. “She kept a campaign schedule with pneumonia. When I have a normal cold, I curl up in the fetal position & want to stay in bed for a week.”

Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm tweeted: “To press lamenting @HillaryClinton‘s health/transparency: ‘powering through’ illness is what women do: Stoically, every. single. day.”

Clinton’s campaign schedule has been vigorous: On Friday alone, she headlined two fundraising events, met with a group of national security heavy-hitters, held a news conference, and granted an interview to CNN.

But the former secretary of state, who at 68 would be the second-oldest president in U.S. history should she win in November, has disclosed fewer details about her health than past presidential nominees — though she has divulged more information than her opponent, 70-year-old Donald Trump, who has released only a cryptic, one-page letter that his doctor has said was written in just five minutes.

David Scheiner, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois Medical School who was Obama’s personal physician for 22 years, argued in a recent Washington Post op-ed that neither Clinton nor Trump had disclosed enough information given their advanced ages.

“Having been in practice for 50 years serving a predominantly geriatric patient population, and now a septuagenarian myself, I can attest that the American people need much more medical information from these candidates,” he wrote. “The medical reports from Clinton’s and Trump’s personal physicians do not suffice.”

And neither candidate has agreed to a protective pool, an intensive form of media coverage that allows the press to monitor the candidate’s whereabouts at all times — as the White House press corps does for the president.

“I’m surprised it’s mid-September, just a little more than 8 weeks before Election Day, and neither candidate has a protective pool,” Obama’s first White House secretary, Robert Gibbs, tweeted Sunday. “Protective pool isn’t always easy for either candidate or press but there comes a point for each nominee when it must be part of daily life.”





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