Hillary Clinton returned to the White House campaign trail Thursday seeking to regain the momentum lost to Donald Trump, especially in the country’s key battleground states, during her battle with pneumonia.
The former secretary of state, 68, signalled she was raring to go, delivering a speech to students at a university in North Carolina before heading to Washington to a celebration marking Hispanic Heritage Month.
But her Republican rival didn’t lose a step, pummelling her economic record and that of President Barack Obama — and releasing new medical records showing the 70-year-old billionaire real estate mogul to be in “excellent physical health.”
The presidential hopefuls are going to pound the pavement in the 10 days to come before their first of three highly anticipated debates on September 26 in New York.
“It’s great to be back on the campaign trail,” Clinton told cheering supporters in Greensboro, North Carolina — another key battleground state.
“With two months to go until election day, sitting at home is the last place I wanted to be,” she added.
“The heat is on.”
Clinton fell ill Sunday during a 9/11 memorial ceremony in New York where she was seen stumbling limp-legged into her vehicle, an episode that raised tough questions about her overall health and her campaign’s transparency.
With the candidates’ wellbeing suddenly at the forefront of the campaign, Clinton looked to head off further scrutiny by releasing new medical records Wednesday indicating that she was “fit to serve” as president.
The disclosure came as the media-savvy Trump, 70, teased new health data of his own during the taping of a nationally televised medical chat show, before publishing it Thursday in full.
The one-page letter from his long-time doctor lists various lab results, including for cholesterol, blood pressure and liver and thyroid function — all deemed to be within the normal range.
While Trump is shown to be slightly overweight, his doctor Harold Bornstein declared the Republican nominee to be “in excellent physical health.”
– ‘Welfare check’ –
Trump had made a point of refraining from harsh attacks on his convalescent rival — but the candidates swiftly resumed their jousting with Clinton back in action.
In an address to the Economic Club of New York, Trump slammed the policies of Clinton and Obama as having doubled the national debt and promised his presidency would bring about “an American economic revival.”
There would be “no limit” to American job growth if government slashed taxes, removed destructive regulations and unleashed the energy sector, he said, warning that the nation would tumble into “dwindling prosperity” and see more people grow dependent on handouts if Clinton were elected.
“The only thing she can ever offer is a welfare check,” he said.
Clinton, meanwhile, attacked the brash billionaire, who has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, for his “alarming closeness with the Kremlin.”
“Donald Trump has run a deplorable campaign,” she told the Tom Joyner radio show.
In Greensboro, she denounced her opponent as dividing voters with his harsh rhetoric.
“Are we going to bring people together or pit Americans against each other and rip this country apart?” she asked.
– ‘Human leech’ –
Clinton surrogates came out in force too, with her former colleague in the Senate, Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid, delivering a ruthless punch on the Senate floor as he addressed reports of Trump’s unethical business dealings.
“Trump is a human leech who will bleed the country,” Reid steamed.
Recent opinion polls show the Clinton-Trump gap narrowing with less than seven weeks before Election Day.
A CBS News/New York Times survey found Clinton had just a two-point edge (46 to 44 percent) over Trump in a two-way matchup among likely voters.
When third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were included, the race was tied at 42 percent each.
A Quinnipiac University poll out Wednesday found Clinton edging Trump 41 percent to 39 percent when third party candidates were factored in.
Trump appears to have flipped the momentum in all-important battleground states as well. A recent Bloomberg poll puts him up by five points in Ohio, while a CNN survey now has Trump ahead of Clinton by three points in Florida.
Clinton and Trump alike will be hoping to score points with undecided voters through a show of greater transparency on their health.
As the Democrat recuperated at home in Chappaqua, New York this week, her campaign released a detailed update from her personal physician Lisa Bardack saying Clinton remains “healthy and fit to serve as president.”
Not to be outdone, Team Trump finely orchestrated the release of his own test results on an appearance on the “The Dr Oz Show,” taped Wednesday and aired Thursday.
After Trump dramatically pulled out his lab results from a suit pocket and showed them to Mehmet Oz — the show’s celebrity host who is also a professor of surgery — the doctor peppered Trump with questions about whether he has had any cancers, “skin issues,” stroke or head injuries.
Trump is seen saying “No” to all of them, with an earnest shake of the head.
“I have to be very boring for you, right?” he quipped.
Clinton appeared to lose her patience with the drama.
“Look at the show he put on with Dr. Oz today,” she said in Greensboro.
“I’ll never be the showman my opponent is — and that’s ok with me.”