Hillary Clinton struggled through three minutes of a foreign policy speech Monday in Iowa as a lengthy coughing fit took hold of her.
An audience of about 150 at the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines had gathered to hear the Democratic presidential candidate’s views on Israel.
But ten minutes into her address, phlegm interrupted – leading to a lengthy hacking cough that left the former secretary of state hoarse and raspy.
Her next campaign event in Knoxville, Iowa was a placid affair as a soft-voiced Clinton seemed unwilling to test the boundaries of her limited vocal power.
‘We’ve got to get back to making people’s voices and votes count,’ she warbled during that speech to a crowd of 250, sounding older than her 68 years.
A few more coughs punctuated Clinton’s Knoxville speech as she discussed the need for mental health reform.
Clinton has one more afternoon event on her schedule, and then a televised town hall event at night.
Her coughing spell sent her hunting through her podium for water, and in her pockets for a cough drop.
The first hint of trouble turned up when Clinton was addressing the need to ‘distrust and verify’ Iran’s actions in response to last year’s nuclear deal with the Obama administration and ‘counter Iran across the region.’
‘And how we handle enforcement in these early months will set the tone for years to come, so we have to get it right,’ she said, clearing her throat and looking distressed.
‘There must be consequences – let me see if I get some water here – (COUGH) You do talk a lot in this campaign!’ she said, sipping water before descending into a full-blown cough attack.
‘(COUGH) (COUGH) (COUGH) Um, excuse me, just one second here. (COUGH) (COUGH) (COUGH) (COUGH)’
‘A lozenge! (COUGH) (COUGH) (COUGH) (COUGH) I have one. (COUGH)’
Three more coughs rang out as she unwrapped the cough drop – and finally asked Jewish Federation president David Adelman to take over from offstage.
‘(COUGH) (COUGH) (COUGH) Here David, You talk,’ she said.
‘(COUGH) (COUGH) (COUGH)’
‘Well, we’re starting the all-in-one campaign,’ her audience heard from Adelman as she let out a ‘(COUGH) (COUGH) (COUGH) (COUGH) (COUGH) (COUGH) (COUGH)’ and popped the lozenge in her mouth.
‘Pledge cards will be by the door,’ he continued as Clinton regained her composure but became progressively more and more hoarse.
‘There must be consequences to, (CLEARS THROAT) excuse me, snap sanctions back into place. (CLEARS THROAT) And we have to make sure that Iran knows that if they try (COUGH) to develop or acquire nuclear weapons, the United States will stop them. (COUGH) We will act decisively.’
‘Now (COUGH) (COUGH) Iran has not had some change of personality,’ Clinton continued. ‘They will test our resolve with actions. Like their ballistic missile test. And I supported and am glad we are opposing (COUGH) (COUGH) new sanctions in response, to hold the Iranian government and its Revolutionary Guard Corps accountable for their support of terrorism (CLEARS THROAT), their missile program, human rights violations (COUGH) (COUGH), detention of Americans, and other illicit behavior like cyber crime.’
‘We also need to push for a political solution in Syria, as hard as that may be, because (COUGH) (COUGH) that is Iran’s real objective: to control Syria, to have a swath of territory up to Israel’s doorstep (CLEARS THROAT) and to connect with Hizbollah.’
‘The second thing is,’ she added, sounding her hoarsest and most aged, ‘we have to go after the tide of extremism (COUGH). This is a threat also on Israel’s doorstep. An ISIS affiliate in the Sinai is becoming more aggressive and sophisticated (COUGH), likely responsible for the destruction of the Russian airliner. And Israeli media reported that an ISIS commander for the Sinai recently visited Gaza, raising the stakes even higher.’
As she spoke, Clinton’s campaign was distributing a fundraising email focused on the Feb. 1 statewide caucuses in Iowa.
‘One week from today, Iowans will head to schools and firehouses (and in at least one precinct, their neighbors’ living room) to make their voices heard,’ the email said, before asking for contributions.
‘We don’t yet know what they’ll say – but we saw in 2008 just how profound an impact those voices can have.’