washingtonpost.com  > Politics

Flood of Get-Well Messages Cheers Clinton Before Surgery

Associated Press
Sunday, September 5, 2004; Page A16

NEW YORK, Sept. 4 -- Former president Bill Clinton was in good spirits Saturday, walking around his hospital room in street clothes and buoyed by thousands of get-well messages as he awaited heart bypass surgery early next week, people close to the family said.

Clinton's wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), and daughter, Chelsea, visited him in the hospital, and he had received 15,000 get-well messages relayed from the Web site of his foundation, a spokeswoman said.

_____Sen. Clinton_____
Video: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking at the New York State Fair, confirmed that the former president will need surgery.
_____Bypass Discussion_____
Transcript: Irving Kron, M.D., cardiovascular surgeon and chair of the Department of Surgery at University of Virginia Health Systems, discusses bypass surgery.

Clinton was hospitalized Friday with chest pains and shortness of breath. The upcoming operation could limit his role in campaigning for fellow Democrat John F. Kerry, who is running for the presidency.

"Let me just say this: Republicans aren't the only people who want four more years here," Clinton said in a live interview Friday on CNN's "Larry King Live."

An angiogram showed that Clinton, who turned 58 two weeks ago, had significant blockage in his heart arteries but did not suffer a heart attack, doctors said.

Clinton was expected to undergo surgery, possibly Monday but probably Tuesday, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, said Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe. He said the former president was "upbeat" when he spoke to him by phone Friday. Information about Clinton's condition is not expected to be released until after the operation.

"I thanked him for getting the Democrats back on the front page, and he told me that's about as far as he's willing to go," McAuliffe said. "I said I needed him out on the campaign trail as soon as possible, and he said as he soon as he recuperates, he'll be ready to go."

In bypass surgery, a piece of blood vessel, usually taken from the patient's leg, is used to create a detour around a blockage. Patients typically spend three to five days in the hospital and are encouraged to be active right away.

Clinton had agreed to campaign for Kerry in the two months before the Nov. 2 general election.

President Bush and Kerry, the junior senator from Massachusetts, sent best wishes to Clinton.

Vice President Cheney, who has had four heart attacks, called Clinton from Las Vegas and wished him well.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company