US & Canada

Bill Clinton insists wife Hillary is in good health

Bill Clinton in Washington (14 May 2014) Image copyright AP
Image caption Clinton laughed as he dismissed Rove's comments about his wife's health

Former US President Bill Clinton has praised the strength and health of his wife, ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, dismissing a top Republican's public doubts about her well-being.

"As far as I can tell, she's in better shape than I am," Mr Clinton, a Democrat, said of his wife, 66.

Mrs Clinton, said to be weighing a 2016 presidential bid, fell ill in 2012.

Last week, Karl Rove questioned her capacity for the White House and reportedly said she had brain damage.

The New York Post reported on Tuesday that Mr Rove, the strategist behind George W Bush's election to the White House, had told an audience in Los Angeles last week, "Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she's wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what's up with that."

In fact, Mrs Clinton was in hospital for three days after falling ill with a stomach bug in December 2012. After becoming severely dehydrated, Mrs Clinton fell at home and struck her head, suffering a concussion. While she was in hospital doctors diagnosed a blood clot.

Mr Rove has disputed the Post report.

"I didn't say she had brain damage. I said she had a serious health episode," he said on Fox News.

Democrats and some analysts have said Mr Rove is trying to inject concerns about Mrs Clinton's health into the public debate as the start of the 2016 presidential race nears.

"There are ways to bring these issues up, and certainly anybody who's running for president has to answer some health questions, and more so, for someone who's going to be 69 at the time that she would take the oath of office," liberal Daily Beast columnist Michael Tomasky said on MSNBC.

"However, this ain't the way to bring it up - a poisonous, toxic way to introduce this."

Mr Clinton said at the Peterson Foundation Fiscal Summit in Washington on Wednesday that Mrs Clinton's concussion was serious and that it took her six months to recover.

"Look, she works out every week, she is strong, she's doing great," he said. "She certainly seems to have more stamina now."

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