Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) denied rumors that she is ill Thursday after critics accused her of hiding a health issue they say could threaten her ability, if elected, to serve a full term.
"I am just perfectly fine," she told Fox's Greta Van Susteren in an interview. "But it has gotten to the point where we're talking about irrelevant ridiculous things in this campaign, and that is unfortunate."
Her denial hasn't satisfied local blogs, which wondered following her infamous 16-second pause during a debate with Democratic challenger Terry Goddard whether it was the sign of a health problem.
Former Arizona Senate candidate John Dougherty (D), an investigative reporter, has fueled further speculation with a post to his Facebook page claiming sources have told him Brewer, 66, recently had a biopsy for thyroid cancer.
He pointed to a TV appearance Brewer made in early October in which she wore a bandage consistent with the procedure, and said Friday that the campaign had not returned requests for comment.
Brewer, meanwhile, has consistently denied rumors that she is ill, saying they are politically-motivated.
"There have been recent outlandish and completely unsubstantiated reports on liberal internet blogs and Twitter citing anonymous sources questioning my health," she said in a statement Tuesday. "Before committing to seek election, I had a complete checkup with my doctors and confirmed there is nothing to prevent me from holding office for four more years."
Her campaign manager, Chuck Coughlin, later pushed back against the rumor by referencing speculation in the early 1990s that Goddard, who is married and has a child, is gay.
"In no way is anyone suggesting that there is a problem with being gay, but it has a common lack of relevance to this race for Governor as the unfounded rumors being perpetuated by Goddard and his democrat operatives," he wrote on his firm's website.
A day later, Coughlin wrote again, apologizing for the post.
"Our posting of 20 year old rumors, on a blog — no less, was meant to be an example of the extreme nature of such speculation. Pointing out this ridiculousness should in no way insinuate or imply anything further," he said.
A poll released Monday has Brewer three points ahead of Goddard — a substantial decline since the summer, when her lead was consistently above 19 points.
She has an 11-point lead among likely voters, the results show.