The topic of Hillary Clinton’s health, about which her opponent, Donald J. Trump, and his supporters have raised questions for months, was thrust into the center of the campaign on Sunday,
after the Democratic nominee abruptly left a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony
feeling ill. Her aides, who said when she left that she was
“overheated,” later provided a doctor’s note saying that she received a
diagnosis of pneumonia days earlier and had become dehydrated.
Mrs. Clinton canceled a trip to California late
Sunday night, and it remains to be seen how long she will be off the
But Mrs. Clinton, 68, and Mr. Trump, 70, are likely
to face calls for far more detailed medical records than they have
provided. In Mr. Trump’s case, the extent of his release so far has been
a widely mocked doctor’s note consisting of a few lines and praise for
his “strength and stamina.” Mr. Trump is also set to appear on an
episode of “The Dr. Oz Show” this week to discuss his health.
Mrs. Clinton, who sustained a concussion in December 2012 after becoming dehydrated, fainting and hitting her head on a toilet, learned she had pneumonia on Friday,
according to the note from her doctor. She attended a fund-raiser later
that night and went ahead with plans to attend the Ground Zero ceremony
But she left earlier than planned, and aides said she was overheated.
After videos emerged on Twitter of Mrs. Clinton leaning against a post
to stand upright and nearly collapsing as she entered her van, her aides
released the doctor’s note.
Many of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters said privately that
they believed she would have been criticized whatever path she chose.
If she had skipped the ceremony, she risked feeding conspiracies about
her health that Mr. Trump has helped fan. But by attending, she risked
getting sicker. Pneumonia, particularly in people older than 65, can be
challenging to recuperate from, and Mrs. Clinton continued to campaign
despite her illness over the course of several days.
But most of those supporters also acknowledged that
by not revealing she had pneumonia immediately after the sick
spell Sunday morning, she had fed the perception that
her campaign was secretive.
That perception has helped bring down Mrs. Clinton’s
numbers in polling when voters are asked whether they see her as “honest
and trustworthy.” The numbers began to sag in 2015 when her use of a
private email server while she was the secretary of state became public.
Mr. Trump proved unusually
restrained, lasting several hours without posting something referring to
Mrs. Clinton’s illness on Twitter. It remains to be seen whether he can
hold to that level of discipline as the week begins. In addition to not
releasing his medical records, Mr. Trump, citing an audit he claims
he is in the middle of, has declined to release his tax returns,
and he has sought to avoid a number of other levels of scrutiny, a
source of frustration for the Clinton campaign.