Appearing on Fox News Monday morning, Donald Trump did the unthinkable; he responded to questions about the Democratic nominee like a presidential candidate normally would. Joining Fox & Friends via telephone, Trump wished his opponent, Hillary Clinton, well, saying, "I just hope she gets well and gets back on the trail, and we'll be seeing her at the debate." That's a very cool and measured response from a candidate that has struggled to stay on message.
Clinton became overheated Sunday at a Sept. 11 memorial service in New York City and left early. Video captured and uploaded to Twitter showed her leaning for support while waiting for her ride, then buckling, stumbling, and being assisted into the SUV by Secret Service agents. She was driven to her daughter Chelsea's Manhattan apartment where she rested and recovered. She was seen leaving the apartment in good health a few hours later; later Clinton's personal doctor said she was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday.
Already there had been conspiracy theories circulating the internet about Clinton's health — some shared by former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Then Trump challenged Clinton to release medical records in August. Her health episode Sunday means these attacks are only likely to increase.
On Monday's show, Fox & Friends hosts focused on the broader issue of her health when questioning Trump. "So health is an issue now, right?" asked Steve Doocy. Trump said it is. Trump upped the medical records ante. He said he would release results of a physical this week:
This last week I took a physical, and I'll be releasing, when the numbers come in — hopefully they're going to be good, I think they're going to be good, I feel great — but when the numbers come in, I'll be releasing very, very specific numbers.
The hosts of the morning show asked Trump about Clinton's health while the ticker below switched between "Hillary's Health Scare" and "Hide and 'Sick,'" hinting at how big her health episode Sunday will play with the channel's conservative viewers. They by and large support Trump.
The hosts' questioning seemed less than balanced. Interestingly, though, Trump didn't play into it. To start, co-host Ainsley Earhardt didn't ask Trump for a comment on Clinton's health, but rather, "Why was the press kept in the dark for so long?" noting that Clinton was first diagnosed with pneumonia Friday and that the press was "kept in the dark" for an hour and a half after Clinton left the memorial event Sunday. Trump didn't get into it. "Well, I really just don't know. I hope she gets well soon," he responded.
That could be intentional. Amy Spiro, a news editor with The Jerusalem Post, reported on Twitter that "Trump's people reportedly want him to keep quiet on Hillary health scandal." Perhaps they are worried that if he responds too strongly, he could interrupt this news cycle that obviously benefits the Trump campaign. By giving such a reasonable response, Trump ensures that the focus stays on Clinton at a moment when she's not at her strongest.