Hillary Clinton's age and health status are "fair game" if she throws her hat into the race for the 2016 presidency, the Republican Party leader said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
“I don’t think there’s a graceful way to bring up age, health and fitness for a candidate who wants to be president of the United States,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus when asked about reports that Republican strategist Karl Rove claimed Clinton could have suffered brain damage from a blood clot two years ago.
"It was fair game for Ronald Reagan. It was fair game for John McCain," Priebus added.
Reagan took office in 1981 at age 69, and McCain was 72 on Election Day in 2008. Clinton is currently 66 years old.
Rove questioned Clinton's mental ability at a conference, the New York Post reported Monday. The GOP strategist, on Tuesday and again on Sunday, denied that he used the phrase “brain damage,” as the Post headline said, but reiterated that Clinton will have to answer questions about her “serious health episode.”
“And she would not be human if she were not — if she did not — take this into consideration. She'll be 69 at the time of the 2016 election. If she gets elected two terms, she'll be 77,” Rove said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Priebus refused to say on Sunday that Rove should apologize for his statements.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who has already endorsed Clinton for president, called Rove's comments a "cheap political shot," implying the the GOP is afraid of Clinton as a candidate. McCaskill added that although "we do not know for certain whether Hillary is going to run," the comments of Republicans wouldn't be what stops her.
Priebus contested McCaskill's assertions. "I actually doubt very much that she will decide to run in 2016," he said.
And if she does, Priebus said, Clinton is a less intimidating opponent than a "blank slate" on the Democratic ticket since "Hillary has decades of history for us to explore."
— Elisha Fieldstadt
First published May 18 2014, 9:36 AM