Karl Rove tempers Hillary ‘brain damage’ speculation
This post has been updated.
Republican strategist and American Crossroads founder Karl Rove says he didn’t say Hillary Rodham Clinton may have “brain damage” from a 2012 concussion and blood clot, as reported in the New York Post on Thursday. But he says the former secretary of State “has hidden a lot” about the episode and will have to reveal more if she runs for president.
“I never used that phrase. But look, she had a serious episode, a serious health episode,’’ Rove said Tuesday in an interview on Fox News. “We don’t know what the doctor said about what does she have to be concerned about. She’s hidden a lot of this.’’
Rove made the comments about Clinton and brain damage last week at a conference in California, the Post reported Monday. “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 newspaper quoted him as saying.
Clinton, 66, was hospitalized for three days and was away from the State Department for a month during her illness, which began in December 2012 with a virus. While ill, she fell and suffered a concussion; in a follow-up exam, doctors discovered a blood clot located between her skull and brain behind her ear. She was treated with blood thinners.
Clinton’s illness caused her to cancel an overseas trip and postpone congressional testimony on the deaths of American diplomats in Benghazi, Libya. When she returned to public view, she wore glasses to correct lingering double vision from the episode.
Rove said he is simply raising questions that will be asked by news organizations — he cited The New York Times — if Clinton runs for president. ’’ “This will be an issue in the 2016 presidential race whether she likes it or not.’’
Rove says Clinton and her advisers will have to weigh health issues in her decision to seek the presidency. “Have them stand up and say ‘No, she’s not going to be concerned at all about her health, this is not going to be a part of her calculation.’ They won’t be telling the truth.’’
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said via e-mail that the former first lady’s health is “100%, period,” and he pointed out that when Clinton first fell ill, some politicos on the right accused her of fakery. Then-Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., for instance, said she had “Benghazi flu.”
“Now they’ve resorted to the other extreme – and are flat out lying,” Merrill said. Rove wants to “inject the issue into the echo chamber, and he’s succeeding. It’s flagrant and thinly veiled. They are scared of what she has achieved and what she has to offer. What he’s doing is its own form of sickness.”