Hillary Clinton cracked a grin as she began speaking Thursday afternoon about falling ill with pneumonia and taking a hiatus from the campaign trail this week.
"I tried to power through it, but even I had to admit that maybe a few days of rest would do me good. I’m not great at taking it easy under even normal circumstances, but with just two months until Election Day, sitting at home was pretty much the last place I wanted to be," Clinton said.
Some people in the crowd laughed, but it wasn’t exactly clear what the joke was. Clinton spoke in Greensboro, North Carolina, today in her first public appearance since Sunday, when she appeared to faint at a 9/11 memorial in Lower Manhattan. After a video surfaced showing the candidate stumbling, her campaign disclosed that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier.
Since then, Clinton’s campaign has been stuck in a rut. Donald Trump has pulled closer and even neck and neck with Clinton in some of the latest polls, and some pollsters have found that her handling of her health questions has hurt her popularity.
Today, Clinton tried to put the questions about her health in perspective.
"Taking a few days off helped me reconnect with what this whole campaign is about," she said. "People like me, we’re lucky. When I’m under the weather, I can afford to take a few days off."
But, Clinton added:
Millions of Americans can’t. They either go to work sick or they lose a paycheck, don’t they? Lots of Americans still don’t even have health insurance, or they do but it’s too expensive for them to actually use.
So they toss back some Tylenols and chug orange juice and hope ... the virus goes away on its own. Most parents can’t afford child care, which in many states costs as much as college tuition. For millions of moms and dads, if they get sick there’s no backup. That’s a story for too many people still in America...
When illness strikes or an accident happens, you feel you’re on your own. Life events like these are catastrophic events for some families but mere bumps on the roads for others. I have met so many people living on a razor’s edge — one illness away from losing their jobs.
The rest of Clinton’s speech was short. It hit all the usual notes — Trump is reckless and can’t be trusted with nuclear weapons, her child care policies are good, Democrats need to get mobilized for November.
But this was Clinton’s first turn at directly addressing the swirling questions since her pneumonia diagnosis on the campaign trail. And her response appears to be: My health isn’t the most important thing in this election.