WASHINGTON – Sen. Charles E. Schumer was diagnosed with pneumonia a couple weeks ago, the New York Democrat’s office acknowledged Monday, a day after Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s staff said she had the common but dangerous lung infection – and five days after Schumer told reporters he had “a little bit of a cold.”
“Sen. Schumer had been diagnosed with pneumonia and, per doctors’ orders, he took antibiotics and kept a lighter schedule to recuperate,” Schumer’s spokesman, Jason Kaplan, said in a statement. “His doctor has given him a clean bill of health and he’s feeling better so he’s back to his usual schedule.”
Monday’s acknowledgement of Schumer’s pneumonia diagnosis came five days after he hacked and wheezed through a conference call with reporters.
“I have a little bit of a cold, so I may punctuate my conversation here with some coughing,” he said apologetically at the outset of the call. About six minutes later, he asked an aide for a glass of water.
A Schumer aide said the senator attributed his cough to a cold because he was nearly recovered from pneumonia but still suffering cold-like symptoms.
Schumer never told the press about his condition because no reporter asked until an Associated Press reporter did so on Monday, the Schumer aide added. Schumer did, however, tell some of his colleagues about his condition, and cancelled some events in order to recover.
Schumer attended the same commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks where Clinton “overheated” and then apparently nearly collapsed while entering her van upon leaving. He issued a statement Sunday in which he said he spoke with Clinton at the event, but that statement never acknowledged his own illness.
The senator remained at the ceremony after Clinton left, but to hear Rep. Joe Crowley tell it, Schumer didn’t look good.
“Chuck Schumer’s shirt was blue at the beginning and it was dark blue by the time we left. That’s how much he was sweating,” Crowley, D-Queens, told Buzzfeed, blaming Schumer’s sweating on the heat.
Schumer, 65, is in his third term in the U.S. Senate and is running for his fourth against Republican Wendy Long. The third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Schumer is in line to be Democratic leader in the next Senate.
His office’s acknowledgement of his medical condition came as Clinton allies rallied around her by announcing that they, too, had been felled by respiratory illness at times over the years.
“Best wishes to @HillaryClinton and @SenSchumer for a speedy recovery; I had pneumonia during my ‘14 campaign and it wasn’t fun, but doable!” tweeted New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Meantime, former Clinton aide Jamie Smith posted an essay on Medium recalling her experiences from Clinton’s 2008 campaign for president.
“Almost every reporter covering Hillary, and staffer, got sick,” she wrote. “A lot. Like – A LOT. I think, if memory serves, I went to the Emergency Room three times and definitely got pneumonia, and it lingered for many weeks.”
And former Rep. John J. LaFalce, D-Town of Tonawanda, said on Facebook: “I have had pneumonia. It’s not uncommon. Who amongst you has had it?”
Within six hours, 25 of LaFalce’s Facebook friends said they had.
Buffalonians may recall that then-Sen. Clinton fainted briefly after leaving the podium during an appearance before a women’s group in the Saturn Club in 2005. A spokesman said she was suffering from a stomach virus and received immediate medical attention at the club. She went on to deliver another speech later that same day at Canisius College.
News staff reporter Stephen T. Watson contributed to this report.