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. docqualizer

    Since when did Karl rove become a medical expert?

    May 13, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  2. snowdogg

    Karl Rove = mastermind behind the "Axis of Evil"

    May 13, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Ben Ghazi/ Ben Hur 2016

    May 13, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  4. Sniffit

    LOL..."the NYT calls this the most secretive administration ever" what? This is the same NYT that helped out Plame and sell us the Iraq WMDs lies??

    Let me clue you in on something: when the MSM complains about an administration being "secretive," it's because they want more access to secrets they can broadcast willy-nilly, without critical thought, without fact-checking or verification and without any sense of right or wrong. The NYT loved Dubya because the Dubya administration fed them things...even blatant report on and they happily turned around and reported it for him. Their tantrums over Obama not feeding them whatever they want don't impress me.

    May 13, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  5. Person

    More junky innuendo from the Right (accompanied by the usual childish cries of "the Left does it too"). False equivalency: If I make a mistake once or twice and you make a similar mistake dozens of times, we are not equally mistake-prone. For a generation now the Right has trumped up one false scandal after another, wasting your and my taxpayer money in order to make their political enemies appear to be tarnished. Now we can add "brain injury" to "Iran-Contra," and "Whitewater," and "WMD", and "death panels," and the list goes on and on. The Left are not angels, but they supported Bush II after 9/11 (not knowing that his people were lying to them and us) while the Right set governance aside in order to concentrate on destroying Obama from Day One.

    May 13, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  6. Michael Sawyer

    She fell and hit her head.

    Whats his excuse?

    May 13, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  7. Ewing2

    Rove is a disgusting piece of work!

    May 13, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. bill

    age and health problems???? maybe that is why she let rice go on tv and use the story she made up about IT WAS A VIDEO????? just think if hillary gets elected–bill will be back in the WH and will have all the extra time on his HANDS because he won't be working????? get the camera ready for his WAR ON WOMEN.

    May 13, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. Va. Voter

    If Rove had brain damage, he'd stop breathing. He needs every brain cell he's got to keep himself alive.

    May 13, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. OvernOut

    When I was a kid, my mom used to occasionally purchase tabloids from the supermarket. I read those cover to cover, there were a lot of nasty, catty things aimed at Jackie Kennedy. I learned recently that much of that was untrue, that the tales had been planted by whomever just to make Jackie–a private citizen and widow of a president–look like a bad or crazy person. False planted newspaper stories probably go back to the cave wall carvings, and it looks like the Neanderthals are still among us.

    May 13, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  11. Ronald Noe

    As usual, Republicans can't win on their platform of hate. They can't win on their record of 50 attempts to repeal the ACA, continuously vote down Jobs and Unemployment benefits, delaying for ever the Immigration Reform. If they are never going to vote on anything while Obama is in office and or Hillary, then send them home!

    May 13, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  12. Justme Babbling

    Anyone that works alongside BO is definitely showing signs of a brain injury. I hope she is the democratic nominee for pres, b/c she will be very vulnerable with the Benghazi issue.

    May 13, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. peterz

    Rove was like a GOP junk food. but unluckily junk food still liked by "conservatives"

    May 13, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. NOPhah Kingweigh

    Thanks for the diagnosis doctor t u r d blossom! I still think we need a second opinion from someone more credible like Sarah Palin, or Glenn Beck.

    May 13, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Aaah Hillary's medical records.... The nu birth certificate and college transcripts....☺️☺️

    May 13, 2014 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. smith

    @Rudy-Adultery trumps divorce in the bible. When we begin to tolerate adultery we decline as a soceity.

    May 13, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. Gunderson

    Rove right. Peasants about send country same path of Rome. After read posts here no doubt cheap shots in, intelligence out. . Old Gunderson see you at bottom.

    May 13, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. The Fact of the Matter

    "We need to know what's up with that." Instead of bashing the question, Dems, answer it.

    May 13, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  19. aatami

    Ha! This is hysterical. Rove accuses HIllary Clinton of having brain damage. Maybe he should look at home for the intellectually compromised. Where should we start? Rick Perry? Michelle Bachman? Ted Cruz? Dimwit Palin? All of whom exhibit actual clinical signs of intellectual disability.

    May 13, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  20. ComeOn2013

    I don't see what the problem is. If she has a health problem, the public deserves to know. She is a public servant who is probably going to run for the highest position in the land…in the world, really.

    May 13, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  21. Gary

    Karl is still up to his "youthful pranks." Wikipedia:

    In the fall of 1970, Rove used a false identity to enter the campaign office of Democrat Alan J. Dixon, who was running for Treasurer of Illinois. He stole 1000 sheets of paper with campaign letterhead, printed fake campaign rally fliers promising "free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing", and distributed them at rock concerts and homeless shelters, with the effect of disrupting Dixon's rally. (Dixon eventually won the election). Rove's role would not become publicly known until August 1973 when Rove told the Dallas Morning News. In 1999 he said, "It was a youthful prank at the age of 19 and I regret it."[14] In his memoir, Rove wrote that when he was later nominated to the Board for International Broadcasting by President George H.W. Bush, Senator Dixon did not kill his nomination. In Rove's account, "Dixon displayed more grace than I had shown and kindly excused this youthful prank."[15]

    May 13, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  22. gravatarfocus

    LOL Karl Rove dares to show his face again. Good to have him back, we need more comedy and Republicans losing elections.

    May 13, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. Reggie53

    Democrats want to hear what they feel they should hear. Rove did not say that Hillary had brain damage but as usual liberals/democrats always take things out of context to make themselves feel good. I am tired of you people always behaving like drama queens and making things out more than what they are. Get a life you democrats!!!!!!! You are getting annoying now!!!!!

    May 13, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. smith

    @yeahright-You can forgive adultery and still serperate your self from the relationship. Btw, Im Independent not for the GOP and it sounds like your defense is based on political motivation.

    May 13, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. Ron

    This is the way it works. You are a politician, the soulless spawn of the dark one. You want to sling mud that sticks. So you release a juicy "chance" comment, guaranteed to get the notice of the press. And, shazzam! It circles the planet at nearly light speed, (when Superman last did it the planet spun backwards!), drawing attention from every ant on the hill. Then you refute it, saying you've been misquoted. And walk away from the stink with a smile, knowing the damage & the devils work has been done. It's another GOOD day to be Carl Rove.

    May 13, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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