Donald Trump to remain silent on Hillary Clinton's illness: Reports

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives at The National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan in New York City on Sept 11, 2016.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives at The National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan in New York City on Sept 11, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP/BLOOMBERG) - Billionaire Donald Trump and his presidential campaign will have nothing to say about Democrat Hillary Clinton's health woes, two United States media outlets reported on Monday (Sept 12).

Several strategists not affiliated with the campaign agreed that it's best for Mr Trump, who frequently causes controversy with his outspokenness, to stay quiet and not draw attention away from what has been a disastrous weekend for Mrs Clinton.

The Republican candidate's campaign say "they want to be respectful", and that staff members have been ordered to not post anything on social media about Mrs Clinton's pneumonia diagnosis, CNN reported Monday.

Any violation of the order could result in termination, CNN said, citing unnamed Trump campaign sources.

Mr Trump has in the past had trouble resisting the temptation to pounce on his rivals when he sees an opening.

The uncharacteristic move comes after Mrs Clinton fell ill on Sunday at a 9/11 memorial ceremony in New York, renewing speculation about her health just under eight weeks from Election Day. She later cancelled a California fund-raising trip.

 

But instead of coming out swinging like Mr Trump often does, the plan is for him and his campaign aides to refrain from commenting on the bystanders' videos that showed Mrs Clinton stumbling or collapsing as she was helped into her vehicle by staff and Secret Service agents, according to the people briefed on the strategy.

Mr Trump, who also attended the ceremony, has promoted the idea in recent weeks that the Democratic presidential contender has serious health problems.

"The Trump campaign tends to play to their base," Ohio- based Republican strategist Jai Chabria said. "If they try to exploit her health issues, they could easily overplay their hand."

Message discipline has not been one of Mr Trump's strong suits since becoming a presidential candidate. Most infamously, he generated weeks worth of negative headlines when he picked a fight with the grieving parents of a soldier killed in the Iraq war.

But in an interview Sunday, Mr Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. said his father has become a more disciplined candidate, and is driving the strategy.

"He is totally committed to doing whatever it takes to win and to make our country better than ever before," Mr Trump Jr. said. "The results we are seeing in the polls and elsewhere are positive affirmation of this. He really understands this game now, especially the nuance between politics and business."

He and his strategists are shifting from prioritising free media, like they did during a crowded primary, to hyper- targeting their message for a two-person general election race, one of his advisers told Bloomberg.

The campaign has learnt the hard way that Mr Trump's ability to be able to drive a news cycle can also hinder their ability to highlight Mrs Clinton's weaknesses, the adviser said. This time, they don't plan to repeat that mistake.

The Internet is awash with claims that Mrs Clinton may have a brain tumour, Parkinson's or dementia.

However the real-estate mogul, known for his relentless and personal attacks, brushed off questions from reporters about Mrs Clinton's health on Sunday.

The campaign instead put out a bland statement marking the 9/11 anniversary.

Mr Trump is scheduled to campaign Monday in Baltimore, Maryland, where he will speak to the National Guard Association, then campaign in Asheville, North Carolina.