Karl Rove on Clinton’s blood clot: ‘Is this going to be the issue of the 2016 campaign? No.’

May 14, 2014

Republican strategist Karl Rove went on Sean Hannity's show on Fox News Wednesday night to try and explain the comments he made about former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton's health at an event in Los Angeles last Thursday.


Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton she testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 23, 2013. AFP/Getty Images

"Is this going to be the issue of the 2016 campaign? No, this is going to be minor."

But, he said, her time in the hospital in December 2012 "contributes to a more difficult decision" about whether to run for the presidency in 2016. " She wouldn't be human,"he said, if it didn't," echoing what he told The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty on Tuesday.

If Clinton decides to run, "she'll need to deal with this at some point." Rove cited the fact that all presidential candidates since the 1970s have had to release their health records to reporters." He offered the press conference held by Vice President Dick Cheney's doctors at George Washington University Hospital — in 2001 as an example. If she decided to run and won, she would be 77 after eight years in office.

The political skirmish over Clinton's fall and subsequent stay in the hospital were prompted by a New York Post headline on Monday that read, "Karl Rove: Hillary may have brain damage."

The Page Six column reported that Rove told the conference where he was speaking along with former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs and CBS correspondent Dan Raviv, “Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.”

A Clinton spokesman responded to Rove's remarks in a statement earlier this week. “They are scared of what she has achieved and what she has to offer. What he’s doing is its own form of sickness. But she is 100 percent, period. Time for them to move on to their next desperate attack.”

BIll Clinton defended his wife at a conference in Washington on Wednesday. "Look, she works out every week, she is strong, she's doing great. As far as I can tell she's in better shape than I am. She certainly seems to have more stamina now."

Rove told Tumulty on Tuesday, "Of course she doesn't have brain damage," a line he repeated Wednesday night on Hannity.

On Hannity, he explained his remark about 30 days — which was incorrect, He revised it to say Clinton was only in the hospital for four days after her fall. In fact, she was in hospital for three days. Rove counted the entire medical incident as lasting 30 days, starting during her trip to Belfast, Ireland, which ended on Dec. 7, and ending when she returned to the State Department on Jan. 7, 2013. In between that period, Clinton came down with the flu, fell, and suffered a blood clot found by her doctors on Dec. 30.

"That's serious!" Rove said.

Rove also brought up the fact that Bill Clinton was slow to release his health records in 1996, for which he said "the New York Times excoriated him." The mainstream media will ask to know more about Hillary Clinton's health if she runs, and they deserve to know, Rove added.

He also offered some media criticism about the coverage of his remarks, giving a short monologue on "the left's angst on this."

Rove and Hannity also discussed what would happen in the Democratic Party if Clinton decided not to run. Rove said a "cavalcade of office holders" would decide to run if she didn't, maybe even some who are elected this year.  Concerning the left, he said it would be "problematic for them if she doesn't run."

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.
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