Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE’s allies are urging her to be more transparent in the wake of her most recent health scare from dehydration and pneumonia.
A wobbly, overheated Clinton was caught on video being helped into a van by Secret Service agents after leaving a Sept. 11 memorial in New York, an image that has dominated the news cycle for the last two days and could do lasting damage to her presidential hopes.
Clinton allies say it could all have been avoided if she and her campaign had been forthcoming and aboveboard about the Democratic nominee’s bout with pneumonia.
They point to Clinton’s unwillingness to give up an inch of privacy as the root of the problem.
“The way it all unfolded on Sunday was sloppy at best,” said one former Clinton aide. “With a little more transparency, we probably wouldn’t be discussing this at all today.”
While the allies acknowledged that Clinton would have taken a hit over her illness, “releasing more information will always help, that’s the reality,” another former aide said.
They also say Clinton’s illness and her campaign’s lack of transparency came at a particularly bad time.
Clinton was already dealing with the fallout from her remarks that half of GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE’s supporters are in a “basket of deplorables,” a comment that Republicans have seized upon to cast the Democrat as elitist and out of touch.
The two crises come after Labor Day, as more American voters are paying attention to the campaign — and with less than two weeks to go before the first presidential debate.
Clinton’s campaign aides have said more of her medical records will be released in the coming days in a nod toward transparency. But her allies are not optimistic that Clinton will change her ways.
The former secretary of State and first lady has always guarded her privacy aggressively, and in an interview Monday night on CNN with Anderson Cooper, she appeared to shrug off the debate surrounding her illness.
“Well, I just didn’t think it was going to be that big a deal,” Clinton told Cooper during a phone interview.
The comment made even some die-hard Clintonites cringe, they say, because it seemed either out of touch or skirting the truth, particularly because of the conservative-media storylines that had bubbled up in recent weeks.
“There was a delivery problem around this whole thing from start to finish,” the surrogate said.
Close observers of Clinton’s campaign say she’s become increasingly insulated and depends on just a couple of close aides, Huma Abedin — who has been with Clinton the longest — and Jake Sullivan.
They say other top advisers are sometimes kept in the dark: Some of Clinton’s aides didn’t know of her pneumonia diagnosis on Friday until it became public Sunday evening, sources say.
“The Clintons have been around long enough to know better,” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist. “I hope Hillary learns a lesson, but she has always been so secretive that I’m not optimistic.”
Another Clinton surrogate put it more bluntly: “I just don’t know how she has a personality transplant. You can’t change people. They can only do it themselves.”
The health concerns have played into a larger theme of untrustworthiness when it comes to Clinton. Throughout her campaign, she has been forced to answer questions about her use of her personal email and private server when she was secretary of State.
Questions continue to loom about a potential conflict of interest with her family’s foundation during her tenure at Foggy Bottom.
Clinton and her campaign have sought to pivot the debate about transparency to Trump, repeatedly noting that he has yet to release his tax records. Trump is also under pressure to release more information about his health than a doctor’s note, which said the billionaire would be the healthiest president ever to serve if elected and has been widely mocked.
Asked by Cooper about the perception by some voters that she isn’t transparent or trustworthy, Clinton replied, “People know more about me than almost anyone in public life.”
“They’ve got 40 years of my tax returns, tens of thousands of emails, a detailed medical letter report, all kinds of personal details,” she said. “As soon as it became clear I couldn’t power through, we, you know, we said what was going on.”
This isn’t the first time Clinton’s ailments have made headlines and stirred controversy.
In 2012, in her final months as secretary of State, she had to cancel a trip to Morocco after catching a stomach virus.
About a week later, aides revealed that Clinton had also sustained a concussion after she became dehydrated and fainted in her home. She ended up wearing glasses to help with double vision, and some Republicans began to claim that Clinton was concealing serious health problems.
While it remains unclear if the narrative around her illness will hurt the Democratic standard-bearer in November, some allies say Clinton can make the current “challenge an opportunity,” as one longtime adviser put it.
“I do think they could benefit by being more detailed on [her] health,” the adviser said.
“But at the same time, couple it with a demand that Trump do the same and release his taxes. Hillary has been more transparent across financial, health, policy and other realms than Trump and demonstrably so, so there’s got to be a focus on that difference and a push for Trump to come clean.”