WASHINGTON (AFP) — Donald Trump was uncharacteristically silent on Twitter Sunday, in the first hours after Hillary Clinton fell sick and had to leave a 9/11 memorial ceremony in New York.
But the businessman, his spokespeople and surrogates have promoted the idea in recent weeks that Clinton, 68, has serious health problems.
The Democratic nominee was at the high-profile ceremony at Ground Zero in Manhattan for 90 minutes and greeted some family members of those killed in the deadly terror strikes 15 years ago. She walked out accompanied by an aide at her elbow and did not appear to be rushing. However, a video posted on Twitter showed Clinton seeming unsteady as she waited to get into a black van. She appeared to stumble as she was helped into the vehicle, held up on either side by members of her entourage.
The episode was sure to fuel Trump’s insinuations that she is not healthy enough for the nation’s top office.
The internet is awash with claims that she may have a brain tumor, Parkinson’s or dementia. Some complain that she has “seizure-like facial expressions” and others allege that she twitches.
Trump, 70, has said Clinton is “not strong enough to be president” and that she “lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS.”
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump supporter, has said that Clinton was “tired” and “looked sick.”
Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, who is not a doctor, last month diagnosed Clinton with dysphasia, a disorder that impairs speech and comprehension.
The root of the claims lies in 2012, when Clinton was nearing the end of her stint as secretary of state and a stomach virus and dehydration prompted her to faint, causing what her doctor said was a concussion.
They said they found a blood clot on the brain and Clinton complained of double vision. She appeared in spectacles featuring a prism when testifying before Congress on Benghazi in January 2013. She was later given the all-clear.
The former first lady has dismissed “conspiracy theories” about her health and points to a detailed report from her doctor declaring her fit to serve as president.
She blamed a coughing fit during a speech in Cleveland last week on allergies.
‘Vitality and viability’
Clinton’s sudden illness is unlikely to be a turning point in the White House race, said Jennifer Lawless, a professor of government at American University in Washington.
From all indications, it appears to just be a brief bout of overheating, she told AFP.
“What the Clinton campaign needs to do over the course of the next several days is demonstrate her vitality and viability. She has to be at tons of events and seem very energetic,” Lawless said.
Clinton had been trying to move on from a blunder in which she told a crowd at a fundraiser late Friday that “to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”
“The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it.”
Trump and his supporters slammed the remarks. Clinton said she regretted saying “half,” but then listed a number of “deplorable” things about Trump.
“I won’t stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign,” she said.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll out Sunday — conducted in the days before she made the remark — shows that 70 percent of the electorate has already decided who to vote for, and only 30% are undecided or could switch.
Clinton leads Trump 46% to 41% among likely voters, according to the poll, which had a 4.5 percentage-point margin of error.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
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