Clinton, Trump trade barbs over health amid tight race
Greensboro, N.C. — Hillary Clinton returned to campaigning without offering apologies for keeping her pneumonia a secret, focusing on criticizing opponent Donald Trump instead of how she handled her health problem and the three-day rest ordered by her doctor.
To the strains of James Brown’s “I Feel Good,” the Democratic presidential candidate returned to the campaign trail Thursday at a rally in North Carolina. It was her first public outing since she stumbled and needed support from aides while leaving a 9/11 memorial in New York last Sunday. The episode, caught on video, was attributed to dizziness and dehydration. And it led to an acknowledgment by the Clinton campaign that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier.
Clinton told supporters Thursday that while sitting at home this week was “pretty much the last place I wanted to be,” the time away from campaign events helped clarify how she wants to close her race against the billionaire real estate mogul Trump.
“We’re offering ideas, not insults,” she said in a jab at her Republican rival. “A plan that will make a real difference in people’s lives, not prejudice and paranoia.”
In New York, Trump laid out plans to lower taxes by $4.4 trillion over a decade and cut regulations, including some of those currently intended to protect the food Americans eat and the air they breathe. The Republican said his plans would bolster economic growth by at least a 3.5 percent annual rate, well above its current rate of about 2 percent. He also said his plan would create 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years — a pace already being achieved.
The heart of Trump’s plan is a revised tax code, which includes a pledge that no business should pay more than 15 percent of its income in taxes, down from the current 35 percent top corporate tax rate. Few businesses now pay the full 35 percent rate, however, taking advantage instead of many deductions allowed under the existing tax code
Amid questions about both candidates’ openness regarding their health, Trump released a new letter from his doctor detailing his blood pressure, cholesterol and medications. That came a day after Clinton made public a letter from her physician with similar information. Both candidates’ doctors declared them fit to serve as president.
Trump’s letter said the Republican is 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds — giving him a body mass index falling into the “overweight” range. The 70-year-old has blood pressure of 116 over 70, and his total cholesterol is 169, his doctor says.
Clinton, 68, has blood pressure of 100 over 70, and her total cholesterol is 189, according to her doctor. Her letter made no mention of her weight, a key part of a medical exam; nor did a similar letter released last year.
Until Thursday, the only information on Trump’s health had come in a widely ridiculed letter from his doctor declaring he would be the healthiest person to ever serve as president. Before releasing the new details to the public, Trump turned over a copy to Dr. Mehmet Oz while taping an episode of Oz’s TV show.
The campaigns traded barbs on the health question, with Clinton’s organization mocking her opponent’s “showmanship” and Trump’s campaign pointing to his stamina to endure “uninterrupted” the rigors of campaigning.
With two months until Election Day, the race between Clinton and Trump is far tighter than many in both parties expected. Clinton continues to be dragged down by voters’ mistrust, but she still maintains more pathways than Trump to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.
Clinton’s confidence in the electoral map was underscored in her decision to make her first stop this week in North Carolina, the only battleground state President Barack Obama lost in 2012. Trump almost certainly needs to carry the state in order to win the White House, while Clinton’s team is eager to block his path.
Clinton slammed North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory for signing a law to prevent transgender people from using restrooms in schools and state government buildings that do not correspond to the gender on their birth certificates. The decision has angered businesses in the state, and this week the NCAA announced it was pulling seven sports championships from North Carolina.
“This is where bigotry leads, and we can’t afford it, not here or anywhere else,” Clinton said.
Later Thursday, Clinton and Obama separately addressed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gala in Washington. Clinton ripped Trump for his refusal, in an interview with The Washington Post, to say Obama was born in the United States.
“When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry?” Clinton asked. The Trump campaign issued a statement Thursday night saying Trump now believes Obama was born in the United States.