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. sam

    Egg head Rove who lead us into trillion dollar wars, he is brain dead.

    May 13, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. regrtgrtg

    American Citizen, Hilary is not old. 66 is not that old in presidents age.

    May 13, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. Mell

    The GOP is doing anything to win. Even having a obese/fat man call others unhealthy!!!

    May 13, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Name

    I don't know , she has the oddest laugh I'v ever heard . She sounds like some one who can't handle stress very well . You people defend your party with blind loyalty . As A republican I do not . I thought Bush was a goofy simple minded but sincere man .

    May 13, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. manhandler1

    Now wait a minute....when all that happened the Republinazis were saying she was faking it. I'm SO confused. Which one of their lies am I supposed to believe?

    May 13, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. BC

    One word for you BIllary....Bengazi

    May 13, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Mike, Albany

    If Rove wants to see brain damage, he only needs to look in the mirror.
    He could also read his own remarks from little over a year ago accusing Clinton of faking injury after a brief hospital stay, not the 30 days he now claims, to avoid testifying before the House over Benghazi. He has gone from "faking it" after a 3 day stay, to her having a "traumatic brain injury" after a 30 day stay. The sad part is that there are those who will knowingly ignore the facts, and simply parrot whatever he says, no matter how untruthful or ridiculous it is.

    May 13, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  8. BC


    May 13, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. kenneth

    carl rove has a few things one did learn how to hunt now?what medical school did carl rove go to.?how many in his class?carl rove cant keep his foot out of his mouth

    May 13, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. Steve

    Don't be too hard on Karl Rove. He doesn't have a brain in his head. Or as his nemesis Mr. Poirot would say he lacks enough of the little gray cells.

    May 13, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. BC

    remember the witch from the wizard of oz? ......Bengazi

    May 13, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  12. Daniel

    All Republicans have traumatic brain injuries, so I don't see what the problem is here.

    May 13, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Thomas

    Karl Rove / Ralph Reed

    Love is never having to say your sorry !

    GW Bush / Dick Cheney 2016
    For the good times ?

    May 13, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. HenryMiller

    Most politicians are brain-damaged and suffer from a disorder that compels them to stick their noses into other peoples' business.

    May 13, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  15. Hypocrite Conservatrads

    Benghazi is the new birther movement, a desperate attempt at creating lies when the AMerican public could not care about a small incident 2 years ago.

    May 13, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. TruthandConsequence

    Something of a cheap shot perhaps, but there is no question that her health and age could be an issue with voters in 2016. Rove is speculating that it will be and that, sooner or later, her health issues, like any Presidential candidate's health issues, will become a matter of public knowledge and, inevitably, of political to-ing and fro-ing. Dems always close ranks around their Golden Calves and do not take lightly to any criticism or speculation.

    May 13, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. pjoe

    At least she has a brain Karl. And since when were brains a qualification for running for President?

    May 13, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  18. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Every presidential candidate is asked for their health records," Rove added Tuesday."

    Oh, absolutely. So ... shall we wait for the official health records or debate ad nauseum Karl Rove's political fodder diagnosis as gospel?

    BENGHAZI most be losing its flavor on the bedpost overnight.

    May 13, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  19. Silence DoGood

    Something of a cheap shot perhaps, but there is no question that her health and age could be an issue with voters in 2016. Rove is speculating that it will be and that, sooner or later, her health issues, like any Presidential candidate's health issues, will become a matter of public knowledge and, inevitably, of political to-ing and fro-ing. Dems always close ranks around their Golden Calves and do not take lightly to any criticism or speculation.
    Go back and read Rove's and then Rush's remarks. Don't sugar coat the conservative attack dogs. They didn't say "health and age could be an issue". They said and implied she WAS literally too old and too sick. I say let everyone see how nasty, deceptive, and mean spirited the conservative fear and hate campaign is.

    May 13, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. sonny chapman

    467 Responses ! Congats Karl Rove. You have fired up the Base! The Dem. Base !!

    May 13, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. The Elephant in The Room

    I'd like to see the cognitive functioning of every Republican's brain tested by a televised, public answer to this question in every election . . . .

    Sir [or Madam] some people believe that the Earth is only a few thousand years old while others believe it is more than a millions years old. Please tell us, which of these two viewpoints most closely matches your views.

    Imagine the consternation if the disconnection with rabid "literal bible-ists" had to be confronted by Republican candidates claiming to be logical, intelligent, cerebrally capable people.

    May 13, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. Jack White

    30 day hospital stays usually mean something major. She's hiding something.

    May 13, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. CryBabies

    SDG... Very much like that old, mean-spirited crackpot, Harry Reid eh?

    May 13, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. Reggie53

    Hillary is really looking old......Time for her to retire ..... She needs the rest.

    May 13, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. drake mallard

    the Gop is a thing of past

    War on the middle class working class, women, gays, freedom, no healthcare,non-Christian religions, war on other countries for oil. We need to reject this candidate and vote for a much more sane foreign and domestic policy

    May 13, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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