Mystery Deepens About Giuliani Headache

Campaign says former N.Y. mayor is healthy but won't provide further details.

Dec. 21, 2007— -- After spending the night and the better part of a day in a Missouri hospital complaining of severe headaches and flulike symptoms, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani arrived home in New York late Thursday.

The former mayor spoke to reporters outside his Manhattan apartment building with his wife, Judith, at his side.

"I'm doing fine. I'm doing great," Giuliani said. "I want to thank my wife, Judith. She's been with me through many different things, and there's one great asset in having a wife that's a nurse: Whenever you have any kind of medical issue, she can calm you, help you."

What was wrong? What tests did he get? What was causing such severe pains? Giuliani gave no details.

His campaign will not release any concrete medical information to the press -- raising questions about the former New York mayor's health and the transparency of his campaign.

Turned Plane Around

Giuliani was experiencing headache pain so severe Wednesday night he had his charter plane turn around and go back to St. Louis and was rushed to the emergency room.

His campaign shared no concrete medical information about which tests the mayor undertook and what the exact results were, also refraining from allowing the media to see his medical records or speak to his doctors.

A senior Giuliani campaign official told ABC News, "He's fine. He campaigns very vigorously. He did 77 events in 53 cities this month. He just got sick."

The former mayor was all smiles for the cameras as he left Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis Thursday afternoon after spending the night and the better part of a day in a Missouri hospital.

"I feel great. Take care. Merry Christmas, I'm feeling fine, thanks to the hospital. They did a great job," Giuliani said, refusing to answer any reporters' questions as he left the hospital.

Giuliani's campaign released a statement from communications director Katie Levinson saying he was leaving the hospital after staying overnight with "a clean bill of health. Doctors performed a series of precautionary tests, and the results of all the tests were normal."

In New York, Judith Giuliani made a brief statement to reporters Thursday afternoon, saying her husband is "in very good health" and would be coming home, but she did not answer any questions.

The presidential candidate's wife said that she "spent most of the night on the telephone with the doctors and the wonderful nurses at Barnes Jewish Hospital. They assured me that Rudy is in very good health."

Turning Point

From the lymphoma of former Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas or the irregular heart rhythm of former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, every medical issue takes on greater consequence in the harsh glare of the presidential stage.

However, experts on political crises say Giuliani is handling this exactly the wrong way.

Former Bush administration strategists say the Bush team faces relentless questions about Vice President Dick Cheney's heart.

"What you learn is that the times that you hide and the times that you are not as upfront about it is the times the story continues on and feeds on itself," said Matthew Dowd, former Bush strategist.

In December 1999, then-Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., faced tough questions about the irregular heart rhythm he had not been completely forthright about.

Former Clinton White House senior aide Lanny Davis recalls Bradley's lack of disclosure as a turning point for his campaign.

"I was in Iowa that night during the caucuses, and I heard Iowa voters wondering whether Sen. Bradley had a very serious heart problem," Davis said.


The incident is a painful reminder of the medical condition that forced Giuliani out of another political race almost eight years ago. Giuliani quit his Senate race against Hillary Clinton because of prostate cancer.

Campaign aides said Giuliani plans to return to the campaign trail as soon as Saturday.

They are unapologetic about how little medical information they've provided to the public about the mayor's condition, despite the fact that the last time Giuliani was in Des Moines, Iowa, he told voters his would be an open administration.

"I would make sure that government was government was transparent," he said during the Des Moines Register debate in early December. "My government in New York City was so transparent that they knew every single thing I did almost every time I did it."

However, that promise of transparency has not been applied to his health crisis. The irony is if former Mayor Giuliani gets the job of president, the White House physicians will disclose all his health information to the public.