April 5, 2008 — -- For the second time in recent days, Sen. Hillary Clinton has had to drop a story from her stump speech after being challenged on its accuracy.
For the past month, the New York senator liked to tell the tale of a pregnant woman who was denied health care from an Ohio hospital because she did not have $100 the hospital demanded to treat her.
After being turned away, the woman was brought back to the hospital days later with severe complications. She had to be rushed to another facility for advanced treatment, but it was too late. Both the woman and the baby died, Clinton told her audiences.
For Clinton, the story was an example of how everyone should have universal healthcare. It is a powerful tale and always drew gasps from the audience.
The hospital, which was never named in Clinton's speeches, objected this weekend, saying it wasn't true and demanded that Clinton stop telling it.
The O'Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens, Ohio, told the New York Times that the woman was insured and was never denied treatment.
The Clinton campaign told ABC News today that the candidate heard the story from a deputy sheriff and had no reason to doubt the story.
"If the hospital claims it didn't happen that way, we certainly respect thatand she won't repeat the story," said Clinton spokeswoman Mo Elleithee.
"Candidates are told stories by people all the time, and it's common forcandidates to retell those stories," Elleithee said. "It's not always possible to fully vet them, but we try. For example, medical records are confidential. In thiscase, we tried but weren't able to fully vet the story."
Elleithee said the point of the story is that the country has a health care problem. "That's a point very few people will dispute," she said.
The senator's credibility came under fire last week when she tried to burnish her credentials as a veteran of international hot spots and described dodging sniper fire upon arrival in Bosnia in 1996 when she was traveling as a First Lady.
She admitted she "misspoke" when a video emerged showing her getting off the helicopter and being greeted by a girl with flowers. Clinton later tried to make fun of the misstep by telling Jay Leno during an appearance earlier this week that she almost was late because she was pinned down by sniper fire at the Burbank airport.