Republican strategist Karl Rove on Tuesday distanced himself from a provocative New York Post headline, saying he does not believe -- as the newspaper asserted -- that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton suffered "brain damage" from a head injury in 2012.
"Of course she doesn't have brain damage," he said in an interview with The Washington Post.
But Rove said that it is apparent that Clinton suffered "a serious health episode." He added that if she runs for president in 2016, "she is going to have to be forthcoming" about the details of where, how and when it happened.
He noted that major media organizations will demand her medical records, as they do for every major presidential candidate and as they did for former vice president Richard B. Cheney, who suffered a series of heart attacks.
"She didn't feign illness," Rove said of Clinton's failure to show up at an early round of congressional hearings on Benghazi, Libya -- an absence that some conservative commenters dubbed the "Benghazi flu."
And as Clinton contemplates whether to make another bid for president, Rove said, "she would not be human if it didn't enter into her considerations."
The report in New York Post’s “Page Six” column said Rove addressed Clinton’s health during a conference in Los Angeles on Thursday, when he appeared alongside former Obama administration spokesman Robert Gibbs and CBS correspondent Dan Raviv.
Noting reports that Clinton had suffered a blood clot after a fall in December 2012, Rove said, “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.”
The tabloid said Rove “repeated the claim a number of times to the audience.” The headline on the item read, “Karl Rove: Hillary may have brain damage.”
According to news reports, Clinton was hospitalized for three days, not 30. The secretary of state was admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center for a blood clot that developed after a fall from dehydration related to a stomach virus, according to Clinton aides and hospital officials.