Republicans Keep Focus on Hillary Clinton’s Age and Health, Say She’s Unlikely to Run

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 18 2014 1:18 PM

Republicans Keep Focus on Hillary Clinton’s Age and Health, Say She’s Unlikely to Run

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Hillary Clinton waits to speak at the World Bank on May 14, 2014

Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Top Republican figures made it clear Sunday they have no plans to stop talking about Hillary Clinton’s age and health, although several did question whether the former secretary of state will even run in the first place. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was asked on NBC about reported comments by Karl Rove in which he apparently said Clinton had suffered  brain injury in 2012. Priebus did not distance himself from the comments. “Look, I think that health and age is fair game. It's fair game for Ronald Reagan. It's fair game for John McCain,” Priebus said. “It's going to be an issue. It's going to come up.”

Still, questions of her health may be irrelevant because all this talk is “going to make her rethink whether she should actually run for president,” Priebus said. “I don’t actually think she will if she has another month like she just had.” Rove seemed to strike a similar tone on Fox News, making it clear he didn’t regret bringing up her health, but saying it wasn’t about her health to begin with. “I’m not questioning her health. What I’m questioning is whether or not it’s a done deal if she’s running," Rove said on Fox News, according to Politico. "And she would not be a human if did not take this into consideration. She’ll be 69 at the time of the 2016 election. If she gets elected and serves two terms, she’ll be 77.” Rove did concede that “she suffered no long-term damage” from the 2012 concussion.

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Separately on Fox News, former vice president Dick Cheney also said Clinton’s health is fair game. “Any presidential candidate or vice presidential candidate is going to have to answer questions about their health,” Cheney said on Fox News, according to Politico. Lynne Cheney, who was interviewed alongside her husband, also reiterated earlier claims that the Clintons were likely behind Monica Lewinsky’s piece in Vanity Fair. “I was really paying the Clintons a large compliment. I was saying how clever they are politically,” Lynne Cheney said.

For their part, several Democrats expressed concern about the potential pitfalls for Clinton of being considered such a strong frontrunner so early in the race. "I guess I worry a little bit,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick told CNN. “She's an enormously capable candidate and leader. But I do worry about the inevitability thing, because I think it's off-putting to the average ... voter." Sen. Dianne Feinstein also expressed similar concern: “This is hard for me, because I did talk with her and thought it would be better that she not get out there early, because her favorability was so high that all that could happen in this is go down.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.