Excerpt from The Great Divide: Labor Day 2016 Revisited

Published September 4, 2017

One year ago — Labor Day 2016 — the health of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump took center stage in their race for the presidency. This excerpt from The Great Divide: Story of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Race is from Chapter 63: “Is There a Doctor in the House?”

On Monday, September 5, 2016 – Labor Day – Hillary Clinton was giving a speech in Cleveland when she began to cough. She had trouble continuing. She joked that “every time I think about Trump I think I’m allergic” but this was no joke or allergy. She was coming down with pneumonia, though she didn’t know it.

She was not diagnosed until several days later – on Friday, September 9. Her doctor recommended she rest. She didn’t want to cancel events on her campaign schedule that weekend. She particularly did not want to miss a 9/11 memorial service on Sunday in New York City.

Rather than disclose the illness, Clinton thought she could “power through it.” At the 9/11 event, however, the pneumonia caught up with her. Clinton felt woozy. It was hot and she was on medication, causing her to leave the event early. As she was being helped into a limo, her knees buckled and she appeared to collapse.

Like everything else in this day and age, the incident was caught on camera. Only then did Clinton divulge that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier. The press – liberal, mainstream and otherwise – went nuts, calling this another example of Clinton lacking transparency. She should have disclosed this illness as soon as it was diagnosed, they cried.

Clinton later explained she thought she could “power through” the illness but the heat on Sunday and her medication had caused her to become dehydrated. “I just didn’t think it was going to be that big a deal,” she said. Only then did she finally acquiesce to her doctor’s advice to take some time off.

The incident also raised new questions about Clinton’s health. Trump had recently questioned whether Clinton had the strength and stamina to be president – a comment some perceived to be sexist. Now he was looking prescient.

Some conservative media outlets had alleged Clinton had Parkinson’s disease, dementia, epilepsy or some other serious condition and was using a body double to cover it up – seriously. Clinton’s campaign announced it would release more information on her health.

Clinton had already disclosed more health information than Trump had. All he had released was the half-page note from his doctor written in haste and jest. Now he was being called on to release more detail on his health as well. He said he had recently had a physical and would share the results as soon as the numbers were in. Reality showman that he was, Trump said he would announce the results on a daytime TV show hosted by cardiologist Mehmet Oz, better known as Dr. Oz.

The candidates released more detail on their health. Clinton was taking thyroid medication and a blood thinner. Trump took a statin to lower his cholesterol. Otherwise, for their ages, both were relatively healthy. Now back to the gutter.