- The Washington Times - Monday, January 31, 2005

No ambulance, but plenty of drama: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton swooned briefly during an appearance in Buffalo, N.Y., yesterday, causing some hubbub in news outlets before reports arrived that the New York Democrat was fine — and right back on the speaker’s podium.

According to initial bulletins on CNN, Fox News, the Associated Press and others, Mrs. Clinton “collapsed and was taken to the hospital” during a noon speech before 150 Democratic supporters at a private club.

By early afternoon, Mrs. Clinton’s office issued a straightforward statement:

“Senator Clinton is suffering from a stomach virus. She wasn’t feeling well while speaking at an event in Buffalo, New York, this morning. She felt weak, needed to sit down and then fainted briefly. She received immediate medical attention at the site and is now proceeding with her schedule as planned.”

The culprit virus apparently emerged among Mrs. Clinton’s staff during a weekend retreat in Westchester, N.Y. She first complained of symptoms while visiting the Buffalo News yesterday morning.

Hours later, the quick-acting virus took hold.

According to eyewitnesses, a pallid Mrs. Clinton was in distress for about 30 seconds as she began a speech on Social Security for business leaders at the Saturn Club. She was supported by bystanders and Secret Service agents before sinking into a nearby chair.

After informing her audience that she could not continue, Mrs. Clinton asked for water and took about an hour to recover before heading off to her third speaking engagement of the day, at a Catholic school at about 1:30 p.m.

“It wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds,” she told her audience at Canisius College, where she delivered a speech on health care in a dark suit with an American flag pin on her lapel.

But politics is never far away from Mrs. Clinton, even when she has the stomach flu.

Former Rep. John LaFalce, New York Democrat, told the crowd when introducing Mrs. Clinton that she had gone against her doctor’s advice because “she was committed to talking about health care.”

Pro-life protesters also clustered outside the college hall where the senator spoke.

For some observers, Mrs. Clinton’s experiences was a cautionary tale for politicians who might sacrifice health for the sake of a zealous schedule.

“Politicians seem to think they’re invulnerable. Bill Clinton never thought he’d need major heart surgery,” noted Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift on Fox News yesterday.

“Is Hillary paying more attention to her husband’s or constituents’ needs and putting herself last?” she asked. “Politicians with tough, arduous schedules should know better. Hillary is a larger-than-life figure, and Democrats are hungry for someone to lead them out of the wilderness.”

Still, the events gave network medical consultants considerable time on camera.

“Sudden lightheadedness and even collapse — this can be common in a stomach flu, due to temporary dehydration and low-grade fever,” Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld told Fox yesterday.

“It’s very likely a benign phenomenon, but it can be more serious. Still, I’m disappointed that Senator Clinton didn’t go to the hospital to at least get her blood pressure checked out,” he added.

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