My interview with Metro World News on the US presidential election and Hillary Clinton’s health, 9/12/16

Q: How does health of the candidate affects on the campaign’s result?

The health of any candidate is always a concern. Health issues have arisen in past campaigns, especially with candidates nearing or in their 70s, such as Eisenhower, Reagan, and John McCain. Campaigns always try to maintain that their candidates are physically fit. John F. Kennedy had serious health issues that were not and, in retrospect, should have been disclosed. Unfortunately for the media and the public, candidates are not required to disclose their health records.

Q: Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested Clinton is unfit, telling supporters last month she “lacks the mental and physical stamina” to serve as president. Is it an important issue in the U.S.? (that candidate has to look healthy, be tall, slim etc.)

It is uncommon for one candidate to directly claim that the other is unfit for the presidency.  These kinds of charges are usually indirect, as when a younger candidate says that he/she will bring energy and vigor to the presidency.  Trump supporters could say that Clinton brought the issue up first by saying that Trump is tempermentally unfit to be president, perhaps implying some kind of mental or psychological illness. More than one amateur and even professional psycholanalysts have “diagnosed” Trump’s narcissism. That said, running for president is a grueling, two-year process. It would be unusual if health issues did not appear, though the timing of Clinton’s illness is unfortunate.

Q: Clinton has cancelled a trip to California, that included a meeting with fundraisers and a speech on the economy. Will she loose something by not attending?

Any time taken off the campaign trail is a lost opportunity. However, Clinton has many surrogates to campaign on her behalf while she is recovering, including President Obama. She is also dominating the airwaves with TV ads in battleground states. The important thing now is for her to recover fully before the first presidential debate on September 26. In 1960, Vice-President Richard Nixon was hospitalized with an infection for two weeks prior to the first debate with JFK. His lackluster performance on that historic night was largely attributed to his haggard appearance.

Q: Could Trump make some vital points while Hillary is recovering?

It will help him dominate the headlines in the near term, but he has to be careful. He has not fully disclosed his health records nor, as we know, his tax returns.  This raises the larger issue of transparency for both campaigns. To the extent that his health claims imply that only men have the stamina to be president, he could be (and has been) accused of sexism. If he says “I told you so” about Hillary’s health, as he has been known to do following a tragedy such as the Orlando mass shooting, the question of whether he has the temperament to be president will reappear.

Q: What to expect in the future? Will the health battle continue?

I expect this issue will go away eventually, but it may not fully disappear until the first debate.  She can dispose of the health issue during the debates with vigorous performances.  She can even joke about it, as President Reagan did about his age in 1984. And, she or her supporters can turn the issue around, asking Trump for his health (and, by the way, financial) records.  After all, he is older than she is.

Q: Who could become its eventual winner?

In the long run, very few campaign issues determine how a person will vote for president. This past week is by far Clinton’s worst week of the campaign, but Trump has had a run of bad weeks since the spring. The race has returned to the pre-convention point with Clinton possessing a small lead in the polls.  The debates will be important, but not only because of Clinton’s health. The burden will be on Trump to show that he is qualified intellectually and emotionally to be president.

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