May 13th, 2014
09:06 AM ET
4 years ago

Rove criticized for Clinton 'brain injury' suggestion

(CNN) - Karl Rove's suggestion that Hillary Clinton suffers from a brain injury is coming under attack.

Rove, the mastermind behind George W. Bush's two presidential election victories, appeared at a conference last Thursday, where he discussed a 2012 incident that sent the then-secretary of state to the hospital, according to the New York Post's Page Six, the newspaper's well-known gossip column.

"Thirty days in the hospital?" asked Rove, a Fox News Channel contributor, according to the report. "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."

Clinton, who's seriously considering a second bid for the White House, suffered a blood clot in December 2012, after falling. After first going to the hospital for testing, Clinton later was admitted for a three-day stay at a hospital in New York City.

The incident prevented Clinton from testifying to Congress about the September 11, 2012, attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead and some Republicans at the time questioned her injury. Clinton eventually testified in January 2013 about her role in the Benghazi attack, a role Republicans have increasingly criticized. Should the 66-year-old Clinton decide to run for the White House again, her health, like any other candidate's, would be an issue.

Clinton: No need for new Benghazi committee, but GOP 'calls the shots' in the House

After the Post story posted, Democrats and others were quick to slam Rove. The Democratic National Committee put out a statement saying, "It appears Karl Rove's medical diagnoses are about as solid as his election night prognostications."

The DNC statement refers to Rove's prediction that GOP nominee Mitt Romney would win the 2012 presidential election.

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said that "Karl Rove has deceived the country for years, but there are no words for this level of lying."

As for Clinton's health, Merrill added, "She is 100%. Period."

Rove defended his comments Tuesday morning on the Fox News Channel, saying that it's legitimate to ask about a potential presidential candidate's health.

"No, no. I didn't say she had brain damage, she had a serious health episode and my point was that I think it was from the 7th of December in 2012 through the 7th of January of 2013, she underwent, first she had apparently a serious virus. They announced then on the 15th of December that she had at some period in the past week fallen. They didn't say when, they didn't say where. She was recovering at home. On the 30th of December she goes in and turns out to have had a blood clot. They won't say where. The next day they say it is between her skull and her brain behind her right ear. She is in the hospital for four days. She goes home, is back in the office on the 7th and testifies on the 25th wearing special glasses that allow her to deal with the double vision that this episode caused," Rove said

While she was hospitalized, Clinton's doctors said they were "confident she will make a full recovery."

Clinton has increasingly come under attack by Republicans as she seriously considers a 2016 presidential bid. If she decides to run, she would instantly become the overwhelming frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. At the same time, Clinton is keeping up a very demanding speaking schedule that includes lots of travel.

Hillary Clinton edges down slightly in new CNN/ORC 2016 poll

While she mulls her decision, the GOP and pro-Republican outside groups have stepped up their attacks on Clinton, on everything from the Benghazi incident to the 1990s Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Rove said Clinton's health will be a factor if she runs for the White House.

"My point was that Hillary Clinton wants to run for president, but she would not be human if this didn't enter in as a consideration. My other point is this will be an issue in the 2016 race whether she likes it or not. Every presidential candidate is asked for their health records," Rove added Tuesday.

Following Rove's appearance on Fox News, Merrill released a new statement.

"From the moment this happened seventeen months ago, the Right has politicized her health. First they accused her of faking it, now they've resorted to the other extreme – and are flat out lying. Even this morning, Karl Rove is still all over the map and is continuing to get the facts wrong. But he doesn't care, because all he wants to do is inject the issue into the echo chamber, and he's succeeding. It's flagrant and thinly veiled," Merrill said.

"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%, period. Time for them to move on to their next desperate attack," he added.

The 2012 incident was not the first time Clinton dealt with blood clots. She told the New York Daily News in 2007 that while campaigning for Sen. Chuck Schumer in 1998 she suffered a large blood clot behind her right knee and had to be rushed to Bethesda Naval Hospital outside Washington, D.C.

"That was scary because you have to treat it immediately – you don't want to take the risk that it will break lose and travel to your brain, or your heart or your lungs," Clinton told the newspaper. "That was the most significant health scare I've ever had."

Clinton also fell and fractured her right elbow as secretary of state in 2009 and was treated at George Washington University Hospital.

Age an issue in presidential elections

Rove pointed out that some Democrats in 2008 made Republican presidential nominee John McCain's age an issue during the campaign.

The AFL-CIO launched a website called "Younger than McCain," which featured a video listing things that were all younger than McCain's 72 years, including plutonium, McDonalds and the country of Pakistan.

The age attacks were not limited to outside groups, either. Democratic Rep. John Murtha told a union group that McCain was too old to be president. During an interview with CNN in 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama said that McCain had "lost his bearings" while pursuing the Republican nomination, a line that was seen as a subtle attack.

Age is often made a campaign issue. Bill Clinton's campaign portrayed incumbent George H.W. Bush as old and out of touch during the 1992 presidential race. Then-President Ronald Reagan famously turned the issue on its head in 1984 by telling voters during a debate with challenger Walter Mondale that "I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."



Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton • Karl Rove
soundoff (478 Responses)
  1. Christine Joyce

    When you have nothing but nonsense to report, you head to the New York Post. They will publish ANYTHING, true or not just to make money. And Karl Rove knows this. He did it because the Post is the only publication that would publish something so stupid. Perhaps he is brain damaged from his time at the White House with his good buddy George.

    May 13, 2014 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    Yes, well. Selling one's soul will get one a bit of notoriety ... a few bucks of pocket change ... but little else. What happens to the folks who buy into this soul selling as a political tool is their problem, not mine. They're all one in the same, one day at a time political stooges seeking glorification from the lowest of the low. That there are political pundits willing to do the bidding of a handful of these self anointed, self glorified politicos is an understatement.

    May 13, 2014 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  3. lucky18

    Republican fear of a Clinton run is palatable!

    May 13, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  4. Nick

    Well, I can't disagree with the diagnosis, but more for her policy statements and actions (or inactions) then anything actually medical in nature.

    May 13, 2014 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  5. JenniferC

    Karl Rove is hoping that his comment will become a GOP meme and the Cokie Roberts will report on it in a serious tone of voice as if it were a serious point to be taken seriously.

    May 13, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Unfortunately, Karl Rove is just too conservative to admit to a political wrongdoing, especially if it mean redacting a comment.

    May 13, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  7. The USDOD

    The US DOD announces a new weapon available if hostile aliens try to take over the Earth. The DOD will allow Palin voters to "mind meld" with the aliens. The aliens' heads will immediately implode caused by the huge vacuum.

    May 13, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  8. Bill, Bloomington Il

    and Hilary knows about lying.

    May 13, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  9. rs

    Let's be honest: Ms. Clinton could walk on water and Rove and his destructive minions would complain. When people lament our poisonous politics, and try to blame the President, they really need to study Mr. Rove- whose handiwork has guided the GOP through many a fake conspiracy, and many personal attacks.

    America would be better off without the likes of Rove and today's demented GOP.

    May 13, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  10. Whereisthemiddle?

    Rove should be an ongoing Family Guy character. He meets all the criteria.

    May 13, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  11. John

    Rove has his loyal base that dwells on his every word. They lost the presidential race twice. They'll lose again before he becomes daisy fertilizer.

    May 13, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  12. Pat Henry

    Nobody with brain damage could have made a 10000% profit in the stock in only a few days having zero experience and using the money of others – but, Hillary did. Ask Vince.

    May 13, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. ShawnDH

    Republicans are D-E-S-P-E-R-A-T-E.

    May 13, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  14. Thom

    I think it's Rove who has the brain damage......

    May 13, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Rove's the one with brain damage.

    May 13, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  16. Richard Miller

    The man will stop at nothing to prove that he is the most despicable human being.....not too far removed from the snakes under the rocks.

    May 13, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Remember when the left was going around saying Romney had killed some guys wife and Reid was saying Romney hadn't paid income tax in 5 years? When the left stops with the hate filled things they are constantly spewing then I might listen to the outrage from the left. Not until.

    May 13, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  18. edward

    Karl Rove is the one with a damaged brain.

    May 13, 2014 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  19. Dennis

    Desperate words from Mr.Potato Head,Karl Rove and the GOP.There is no level they will not stoop to in another failed bid to return to the White House.

    May 13, 2014 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  20. Rick McDaniel

    Clinton has failed to demonstrate any qualifications for leading America. That is the basis on which I will say she is NOT qualified.

    May 13, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  21. Anthony

    well he would be the expert on brain damaged presidents and presidential contenders

    May 13, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  22. Uncle Sam

    I believe this has been known for some time.

    May 13, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  23. Queen Amadela

    Perhaps she was shot in the sniper attack? Bottom line however, why does CNN spread Roves diaper contents? Isn't it enough that he has to play with it?

    May 13, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  24. happynurse

    he doesn't realize that only a small sliver of the population believe him, the rest know he is a joke

    May 13, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  25. tellingitlikeitis

    What? Sounds like someone, too, has brain damage. It's ashamed losers will resort to a snake-belly's level of bullying and lying about others to deter people. Karl needs to have HIS head examine..

    May 13, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
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