Hillary Clinton’s Diagnosis of Pneumonia and the Implications for Her Presidential Campaign


Hillary Clinton "didn't think (her pneumonia) was going to be that big a deal". Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Erika Marchant

September 11, 2016– Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton abruptly left the memorial ceremony held at ground zero in New York City, marking fifteen years since the September 11th attacks. Seen stumbling into a van during her exit with the assistance of multiple Secret Service agents, the effects of Clinton’s apparent heat exhaustion and dehydration were not gone unnoticed. Seeming to faint, Clinton was “clearly having some type of medical episode,” according to one witness.

A separate witness described Clinton to having stumbled off the curb, her “knees buckled”. She had lost a shoe as she was assisted into the van during her “unexpected early departure.”

Speaking to the incident, spokesman Nick Merrill stated, “Secretary Clinton attended the September 11th Commemoration Ceremony for just an hour and thirty minutes this morning to pay her respects and greet some of the families of the fallen… During the ceremony, she felt overheated, so departed to go to her daughter’s apartment and is feeling much better.”

Not until nearly six hours later was it revealed that the episode had potentially been a result of Hillary Clinton’s recently diagnosed case of pneumonia, having occurred at least two days prior. The diagnosis had taken place Friday by Dr. Lisa Bardack– chairman of internal medicine at the Mount Kisco Medical Group– who reported that after the ceremony, Clinton “was put on antibiotics, and advised to rest and modify her schedule. While at this morning’s event, she became overheated and dehydrated. I have just examined her and she is now re-hydrated and recovering nicely.”

The incident, as well as Bardack’s statement on Clinton’s health, is sure to provoke additional scrutiny of Clinton’s condition, as well as her campaign’s transparency.

The Clinton campaign declined to respond to questions on Sunday asking why her diagnosis hadn’t been disclosed Friday.

The manner in which Clinton’s campaign team responded to the incident was considered by many to be a move that reinforced concerns about what is viewed as a tendency toward secrecy; their statement was released nearly an hour and a half after Clinton had left the ceremony, reporters were not permitted to question or follow Clinton, and her initial claims that the weather was to blame for her “overheating” did not align with New York City’s temperatures at the time (ranging in the low 80’s)– raising considerable suspicion.

However, this specific incident of Clinton’s questionable physical condition does not stand as an isolated incident. Her Republican critics have been claiming for weeks that the sixty-eight year-old is “not fit for the physical rigors of the presidency”, referring to her two-minute coughing fit at an event in Cleveland taking place last week. Clinton attributed her coughing to simply be a result of allergies, dismissed allegations of her ill-state to be nothing more that “conspiracy theories”.

Though Republican opponent Donald Trump has released less information on his health than Clinton, Trump has been questioning for months her own state of health.

“At this point, there is no reason to believe that Secretary Clinton will be disabled (by pneumonia),” said Norman H. Edelman, American Lung Association scientific adviser.

“I think that in retrospect, we could have handled it better in terms of providing more information more quickly,” Brian Fallon, a spokesman of Clinton, told MSNBC. He emphasized that the campaign team was too focused on making sure Clinton was well instead of releasing information during the 90 minutes following her exit, though they had initially said that Clinton was suffering from the heat.

In response to numerous accusations of Clinton’s episode being related to a concussion she suffered in 2012, Fallon stated, “There’s no other undisclosed condition. The pneumonia is the extent of it.”