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US campaign week: pneumonia, polls and a tousled Trump

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton appears to be feeling better when she spoke during the Black Women’s Agenda’s 29th Annual Symposium after being diagnosed with pneumonia © Getty/AFP/File / Justin Sullivan

Washington, United States, Sep 18 – With only about 50 days left before Americans elect their president, news from the campaign trail this week ranged from Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia to Donald Trump’s rising poll numbers.

Here is a summary of the top campaign happenings:

– Clinton’s pneumonia –

The Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign was put on hold for three days after a bout with pneumonia.

Clinton, 68, was diagnosed with the illness 48 hours ahead of a September 11 ceremony Sunday in New York, but chose to power through instead of resting. Few people knew of the diagnosis, and she was criticized for a lack of transparency when she had to leave the memorial event early to rest.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia 48 hours ahead of a September 11 ceremony in New York, but chose to power through instead of resting, not resume campaigning until September 15, 2016 © AFP/File / Brendan Smialowski

She didn’t resume campaigning until Thursday. But with the health of both candidates suddenly at the forefront, and in an effort to be transparent, both Clinton and Trump made announcements about their health.

In a two-page summary Clinton’s personal physician declared that she “continues to remain healthy and fit to serve as president of the United States.”

Not to be outdone, the 70-year-old Trump – who would be the oldest president to take office if elected – released a one-page letter from his doctor declaring him to be “in excellent physical health.”

Ever the showman, Trump went on “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV to discuss his health – and admit that perhaps he could stand to “lose a little weight.”

– Trump pulls even with Clinton –

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Democrats are growing anxious as opinion polls show that Clinton’s once strong lead has evaporated. A survey average gives her only a 1.5 point lead over Trump (45.7 percent to 44.2 percent), a four-point drop in two weeks.

Poll also shows Trump – who has been a bit more disciplined since shuffling his top advisers in August – taking the lead in Ohio and Florida, two key battleground states, while gaining in others.

In the polls, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump takes the lead in Ohio and Florida, two key battleground states, while gaining in others © Getty/AFP/File / Joe Raedle

The Clinton campaign mobilized some top surrogates in an attempt to regain momentum. President Barack Obama campaigned for the former secretary of state on Tuesday, and his popular wife Michelle did the same on Friday.

Clinton also sent out two of the party’s liberal stars, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, to drum up support among the young people whose votes she needs on election day.

– ‘Obama was born’ in the USA –

For years Trump has questioned Barack Obama’s birthplace, suggesting that he was not born on US soil – a requirement to be elected president. This continued even after Obama released his birth certificate in 2011 showing he was born in Hawaii.

Trump effected a turnabout in typically spectacular style.

“President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period,” he said at a widely covered news conference.

Unimpressed by the admission, Clinton said that Trump owed Obama “and the American people an apology.” She accused him of questioning the legitimacy of the first black president.

– Trump withholding tax data –

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For decades presidential candidates have released their tax returns to the public. Trump says that he can’t because he’s being audited – even though the Internal Revenue Service says that he’s free to release the data.

Trump’s son Donald Trump Junior offered a different explanation: he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review it was “because he’s got a 12,000-page tax return that would create… financial auditors out of every person in the country asking questions that would detract from (his) main message.”

– It really is his hair –

“Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon tousles Trump’s hair, proving it is not a toupee © Episodic/AFP/File / Andrew Lipovsky

Trump’s unreal-looking yellow-blond hair is not a toupee, and yes, he’ll occasionally let someone muss it up.

“Tonight Show” host comedian Jimmy Fallon gleefully tousled with Trump’s carefully coiffed hair late Thursday in a scene that prompted a huge social media response.

Some Twitter commenters however said they would have preferred that Fallon had worked harder to find out what goes on inside – not on top – of Trump’s head.

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