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Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had to leave the 9/11 commemoration in New York City on Sunday because she was feeling ill.

CREDIT: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Clinton Diagnosed With Pneumonia

The Democratic candidate’s illness raises questions about her health 

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton abruptly left a ceremony yesterday honoring the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and had to be helped into a van by Secret Service agents. Her doctor later announced that Clinton is being treated for pneumonia and dehydration.

The incident, which occurred after months of questions about her health from her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, is likely to increase pressure on Clinton to release detailed medical records, which she has so far declined to do. Trump has also not released detailed medical records, something presidential candidates often do to provide assurances to the public that they are fit for the demanding job of being president. After news of Clinton’s illness, Trump promised to soon release the results of a recent physical. By Monday afternoon, Clinton’s campaign said it would release more detailed information about her health by the end of the week. 

Clinton was taken from the morning event at ground zero to the Manhattan apartment of her daughter, Chelsea. About 90 minutes after arriving there, she emerged from the apartment, waved to onlookers, and posed for pictures with a little girl on the sidewalk.

“I’m feeling great,” Clinton said. “It’s a beautiful day in New York.”

Clinton left in her motorcade and returned to her home, about an hour north of New York City. A campaign spokesman, Nick Merrill, initially said the problem was that Clinton was feeling “overheated” at the commemoration ceremony.

But then the story began to change. A few hours later, Clinton’s doctor, Lisa Bardack, released a statement saying Clinton had been diagnosed on Friday with pneumonia.

“She was put on antibiotics, and advised to rest and modify her schedule,” said Bardack, who examined Clinton Sunday at her home in Chappaqua. “At this morning’s event, she became overheated and dehydrated.”

Bardack’s statement also said Clinton was “rehydrated and recovering nicely.” Late Sunday night, Clinton’s campaign said she was canceling her plans to travel to California on Monday for what had been a planned two-day trip there.

A video of Clinton taken by someone at the 9/11 ceremony captured what appeared to be her legs buckling as she struggled to steady herself and walk to her van. She required assistance from two Secret Service agents, who held her on either side, to move off a curb and into the van. Close-up images revealed that her feet were dragging as she was hoisted into the vehicle. It was only after these images appeared that the campaign revealed the pneumonia diagnosis.

The episode thrust questions about Clinton’s health and the transparency of her campaign squarely into the last two months of the race, which many polls show has grown tighter. For months, Republicans have, with scarce evidence, questioned the 68-year-old Clinton’s stamina and claimed she is ill, often pointing to her repeated coughing bouts.

She has brushed off such claims. Clinton and Trump, 70, have shared substantially less information about their health than some previous presidential candidates. Trump has also been criticized for providing only a brief statement about his health from his doctor. It lacked particulars like heart rate, cholesterol level, or family history.

Questions about the health of presidential candidates are nothing new. Republican candidates Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, and Senator John McCain, each of whom ran for president while in their 70s, faced questions about their physical conditions. And any presidential campaign is a grueling test.

“The physical demands of running for president,” says Scott Reed, who managed Dole’s 1996 campaign, “even with private planes and Secret Service protection, are more difficult than the mental demands.”


Jonathan Martin and Amy Chozick are reporters for The New York Times.

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