WASHINGTON, DC – Not that Hillary Clinton – the steely ex-First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State now poised to become the first woman president needs any rescuing – but in the latest example that politics never ceases to amaze, the unlikeliest of persons recently rushed to her defense about Karl Rove’s comments regarding her health. The person? Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and her husband’s political nemesis when the latter was president, and who is likely to attack her inevitable candidacy long before Election Day 2016.
Commenting about a clot in a vein in Clinton’s head last year, political guru Karl Rove said her health is a valid issue. Clinton’s aides, among other Democrats, blasted Rove for the remarks – though it was the New York Post that sensationalized Rove’s comments, with the headline “Karl Rove: ‘Hillary May Have Brain Damage.'” Rove denied ever saying that.
Nonetheless, the criticism continued, but not only by Democrats. “It’s a terrible thing for Karl to do,” said Gingrich, the Washington Post reported. “It’s petty. It’s personal. It’s negative. It eats up time and space with things that make no difference.”
Those who question Gingrich’s motives – some think he doesn’t have a heart, might take comfort in his final sentence: “We are never going to beat her with this kind of stuff.” That reveals his practical side – that “terrible” aside, it is also politically imprudent to take cheap shots like that.
Nonetheless, much like a provocative statement the jury cannot erase from its mind, even though a judge might order it stricken from the record, the seed has been planted: if elected, Clinton would, at 69, along with Ronald Reagan would become the oldest person ever to be elected president.
There was speculation that the onset of Alzheimer’s had begun before the end of Reagan’s second term, thus causing some concern for older candidates. John McCain, who if elected in 2008 would have been 72, was also the topic of concern, particularly after he chose Sarah Palin – who had no experience in national politics – as his running mate. “What if something happens to him?” was the concern.
It remains to be seen whether Hillaryhealth will remain a topic of conversation, or if she – one half of the politically savvy Clinton Machine – will be able to toss it aside as a nonissue.