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Hillary Clinton faints during speech in Buffalo

Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton fainted  Monday during a speech in Buffalo, N.Y., after complaining of a flu virus.
/ Source: NBC News and news services

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton fainted Monday after complaining of a stomach virus before a scheduled speech on Social Security.

Clinton, D-N.Y., received medical attention at the scene and then went on to give another speech Monday afternoon.

“It wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds,” Clinton said after the 30-minute speech to about 125 people at the Saturn Club restaurant. She kept an appointment to speak later at a Catholic college Monday but canceled another speech scheduled for Tuesday.

“About five minutes into the speech, she said she was queasy,” said Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan, who was at the Women’s TAP fund-raiser at the private club.

Clinton left the podium and continued her talk sitting in a chair but eventually left the room, saying she needed a break, Lenihan said. She returned to the podium a short time later but fainted before resuming her speech.

“It became clear she was faint. She was sort of brought down gracefully,” he said.

The room was cleared, and Clinton immediately received medical attention from, among others, a doctor who attended the event.

“Senator Clinton is suffering from a stomach virus,” her office said in a statement. The senator felt weak, needed to sit down and then fainted briefly, it said, adding that she was proceeding with her schedule as planned.

Clinton proceeds with next speech
Clinton, 57, was smiling when she walked out of the club, said Vincent Tracy, general manager of the Saturn Club. “I saw her walk out the door by herself. She smiled and said, ‘Thank you,’” Tracy said.

There were discussions about whether Clinton should deliver her second speech, at Canisius College, a Catholic institution where her invitation was greeted with protests from anti-abortion activists. In the end, Clinton made the call to go through with the program as planned, said former Rep. John LaFalce, D-N.Y., who introduced her.

“I was under the impression [a doctor] told her to take it easy the rest of the day,” LaFalce said.

Clinton got little sympathy from anti-abortion protesters, who shouted at people who lined up to hear the address. “Shame on you,” one woman yelled.

LaFalce said he was surprised at the backlash. Despite fainting, he said, Clinton “insisted on coming here to give this talk because she felt so committed” to health care.

After talking about health care for about a half-hour, Clinton took questions from the audience. She blamed the illness on a 24-hour bug and said, “What better place to come and talk about healing the sick?”

Clinton was returning to Washington after the speech Monday afternoon. While her staff said she would resume her regular schedule, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities said the senator canceled a breakfast address scheduled for Tuesday morning in Washington for “health reasons.”

During an earlier editorial board meeting Monday at The Buffalo News, Clinton complained about suffering from a flu-like bug that affected several of her staff members during a weekend retreat in Westchester County, where she lives.

Clinton has said she plans to run for re-election in 2006. In September, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, underwent quadruple bypass surgery.