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With headlines abuzz with questions about her health following Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s latest public display of illness, some watchers are beginning to have serious discussions about whether the Democratic Party will be forced to replace the Washington fixture in the 2016 race.
There hasn’t been any official word from the Clinton camp other than the claim that the former first lady is suffering from pneumonia. But journalists with sources at the DNC say the party leadership likely already has planned an emergency meeting to consider a replacement candidate.
Former MSNBC and Al Jazeera America anchor David Shuster tweeted Sunday about conversations he’d had with Democratic operatives who tell him party leaders feel they are in uncharted political territory.
For the time being, however, DNC rules allow Clinton to retain her nomination as long as she is conscious.
“We can make contingencies, argue, plead with [Hillary Clinton], but DNC bylaws are clear her nominee status now totally up to her,” Shuster quoted one unnamed DNC insider as saying.
If Clinton did decide to withdraw because of her failing health, the DNC would be left with sole say in who would serve as her replacement.
That’s because the DNC’s bylaws state that the party leadership “shall have general responsibility for the affairs of the Democratic Party between National Conventions, subject to the provisions of the Charter and to the resolutions or other official actions of the National Convention.”
That includes “filling vacancies in the nominations for the office of the President and Vice President.”
Interestingly, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders made an effort to be sure that his 2nd place status was on the record during the Democratic Convention and resisted handing his delegates over to Clinton by acclamation.
He made the following motion, which passed, during the convention: “I move that the convention suspend the procedural rules. I move that all votes, all votes cast by delegates be reflected in the official record, and I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States.”
Political insiders say that Sanders’ election team is now again quietly scrambling to see if it may be possible to get their man in the White House if Clinton’s health continues to decline.
But, while Sanders is in the running and could make a strong case based on his primary performance, whisperings from within the Democratic machine suggest that current Vice President Joe Biden would be a more likely replacement.
It’s hard to imagine that Clinton, bearing a lifelong history of attaining power at any cost, is going to let anything as minor as a severe bout of pneumonia and whatever health problems the 68-year-old hasn’t told the public about cause her to drop out of the race.
And with it looking increasingly apparent that pneumonia—if she really does have pneumonia— is likely only a symptom of another long-running health battle evidenced by severe coughing fits she’s had for years, even the mainstream media is being forced to admit the absurdity of the candidate’s refusal to release her medical records in full.
Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza, noted of Clinton’s health and why the GOP’s questions are legitimate on Sunday:
I wrote dismissively of that conspiracy theory in this space last week, noting that Clinton had been given an entirely clean bill of health by her doctors after an episode in which she fainted, suffered a concussion and then was found to have a blood clot in late 2012 and early 2013.
Coughing, I wrote, is simply not evidence enough of any sort of major illness that Clinton is assumed to be hiding. Neither, of course, is feeling “overheated.” But those two things happening within six days of each other to a candidate who is 68 years old makes talk of Clinton’s health no longer just the stuff of conspiracy theorists.
For more on Clinton’s health, read: