- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton brushed off worries over his health Tuesday morning, saying his brief hospital stay this week should be not cause for broader concern over his ability to lead.

Dayton was taken to the hospital Sunday evening after feeling lower back pressure and losing consciousness at a function for Rep. JoAnn Ward’s volunteer campaign staff in the Twin Cities suburb of Woodbury. He was treated for dehydration and released Monday afternoon.

He addressed reporters Tuesday morning holding a bottle of water, which he called his “new best friend.”

Health questions have followed the 69-year-old governor since taking office in 2011. He’s had a series of back and hip problems and surgeries, most recently an elective back surgery in December.

Dayton said the crowded political gathering was “stuffy and warm,” and that he had been standing for about two hours before he fainted.

After undergoing tests and receiving fluids for dehydration, Dayton was released from Regions Hospital in St. Paul on Monday. Dayton canceled a lunch with a top lawmaker during his brief hospital stay, but resumed his regular schedule of planned events on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters, the governor again waved off concerns that his health would make him unfit to serve. He reiterated that the only thing that would prompt him to step down would be “if the good lord takes me away from here.”

“My mental acuity is good, my energy and stamina are good, and I’m ready to serve the people of Minnesota to the best of ability for the next three years,” he said.

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