Washington (AFP) – Hillary Clinton’s health is “100 percent,” an aide asserted Tuesday after Republican strategist Karl Rove suggested the former secretary of state had suffered a serious brain injury in 2012.
Rove made the remarks at a conference last Thursday that he attended with President Barack Obama’s former spokesman Robert Gibbs, according to the New York Post’s Page Six.
“Thirty days in the hospital?” Rove reportedly said.
“And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury?” he added. “We need to know what’s up with that.”
Clinton, 66 and the presumptive Democratic frontrunner for the 2016 presidential race, was admitted to hospital in New York for three days to treat a concussion and blood clot she suffered in the fall, and which prevented her from testifying at the time about the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Rove’s comments could be seen as a bid to inject the question of Clinton’s health — and whether she is physically and mentally prepared for another grueling presidential run — into the conversation about 2016.
Clinton’s team quickly rejected Rove’s comments.
“Karl Rove has deceived the country for years, but there are no words for this level of lying,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said.
As to her health, “She is 100 percent. Period.”
Several Republicans had assailed Clinton for possibly exaggerating the seriousness of her condition in order to avoid testifying before Congress about the deadly September 11, 2012 attack.
In January 2013, she testified for seven hours about the crisis.
On Tuesday, Rove insisted he never said Clinton might have brain damage, as Page Six suggested.
“I never used that phrase,” Rove told Fox News.
“She had a serious health episode,” he said, adding that Clinton spent a month from early December 2012 fighting a virus and dehydration which caused her to cancel a Middle East trip, and then the effects from her fall.
Clinton’s team was “not particularly forthcoming” with details and ought to release her full medical records, which will be requested by U.S. media anyway should she announce a run, he said.
Health concerns are fair game for all presidential candidates, he added, and pointed to scrutiny John McCain endured in 2008.
“My point is that Hillary Clinton wants to run for president but she would not be human if this didn’t enter in as a consideration,” Rove said.
“This will be an issue in the 2016 race whether she likes it or not.”
The Democratic National Committee brushed away the strategist’s initial remarks, saying “it appears Karl Rove’s medical diagnoses are about as solid as his election night prognostications.”
Rove had predicted Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney would defeat incumbent Obama in 2012.
Meanwhile, Clinton is keeping up a breakneck pace of speeches and appearances across the country, and she is preparing a book tour to push her new autobiography which comes out next month.
Photo: National Constitution Center via Flickr