Karl Rove 'flat-out lying' on Hillary Clinton's health, says her aide
Aide to possible White House hopeful hits back at Republican strategist's 'flagrant' comments
An aide to Hillary Clinton and the White House have hit back at Republican strategist Karl Rove for suggesting that the former secretary of state's health could be an issue if she runs for president in 2016.
Rove told Fox News, for which he is a commentator, that Clinton had a "serious health episode" that would be a legitimate issue for her in a potential campaign "whether she likes it or not."
The New York Post reported on Monday night that Rove, in remarks to a crowd last week, had repeatedly suggested that Clinton had suffered from a "traumatic brain injury" when she fell and suffered a concussion and blood clot in late 2012.
Or, as the Post headline succinctly put it: "Karl Rove: Hillary may have brain damage."
"We need to know what's up with that," Rove, who gained fame with the election of his client George W. Bush, was said to have told his audience. Rove based his diagnosis on special glasses Clinton wore after her concussion to lessen double vision - fallout of the concussion itself and one that was disclosed by Clinton.
"I didn't say she had brain damage. I said she had a serious health episode," Rove said on Fox News.
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill called Rove's comments "flagrant and thinly veiled. They are scared of what she has achieved and what she has to offer".
Clinton, 66, is the leading Democratic contender for president but has not yet said whether she will seek the White House.
As US President Barack Obama's secretary of state, Clinton fell ill with a stomach bug in December 2012 after returning from a trip to Europe. The illness forced her to cancel a planned visit to North Africa and the Middle East and left her severely dehydrated. While at home, she fainted and fell and suffered a concussion.
During a follow up examination on December 30, doctors discovered a blood clot in a vein that runs between the skull and the brain behind her right ear and she was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital for treatment with blood thinners. She was released after a brief stay.
Merrill said Clinton was "100 per cent" and accused Rove of being part of an effort by Republicans to politicise her health. He noted that some Republicans quipped that Clinton had "Benghazi flu" when her illness forced her to reschedule her testimony before Congress on the 2012 terrorist attack in Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
"First they accused her of faking it, now they've resorted to the other extreme - and are flat-out lying," Merrill said. He said Rove was getting his facts wrong but "doesn't care, because all he wants to do is inject the issue into the echo chamber, and he's succeeding".
White House press secretary Jay Carney mocked Rove as "Dr Rove" and cited his 2012 election night questioning of President Barack Obama's re-election. "Dr Rove might have been the last person in America on election night to recognise and acknowledge that the president had won re-election," he said.
Additional reporting by McClatchy-Tribune