Appearing on the friendly confines of Fox News, Rove wanted to make two things clear: He never said the former secretary of state had brain damage, but he really wants people to consider her age and health issues stemming from her hospitalization in late-2012.
"I didn't say she had brain damage. She had a serious health episode and my point was that from, I think it was the 7th of December in 2012 through the 7th of January of 2013, she underwent, first she had apparently a serious virus," he told anchor Bill Hemmer.
"They announced then on the 15th of December that she had at some period in the past week fallen. They didn't say when, they didn't say where. She was recovering at home. On the 30th of December she goes in and turns out to have had a blood clot. They won't say where. The next day they say that it is between her skull and her brain behind her right ear. She's in the hospital for four days. She goes home, is back in the office on the 7th and testifies on the 25th wearing special glasses that allow her to deal with the double vision that this episode caused."
Pointing to concerns surrounding John McCain's age in the 2008 presidential race, Rove argued that all of this is fair game.
"My point was is that Hillary Clinton wants to run for president, but she would not be human if this didn't enter in as a consideration. And my other point is that this will be an issue in the 2016 race whether she likes it or not. Every presidential candidate is asked for all of their health records by the New York Times they turn them over — and vice presidential candidates — they turn them over to a battery of doctors and they examine them in detail," Rove said.
"And my point was that everybody says she's going to run and she probably is, but I would bet it's a more complicated calculation than we might think because, look, she'll be 69 by the time of the 2016 election. She will be 77 if she serves two terms and this ends up being an issue. I would remind you, here's the headline from US News & World Report: 'McCain's Age And Past Health Problems Could Be An Issue In The Presidential Race.' This happens every presidential race. "
Rove's initial comments on Clinton, reported by the New York Post, came last week at a conference in California. He told Hemmer he wasn't sure if the event was recorded, but insisted that he never said Clinton has "brain damage."
"No, I never used that phrase, I never used that phrase. But look, she had a serious episode, a serious health episode," Rove said.
Democrats have been quick to pounce on Rove's reported comments. A spokesperson for Clinton told the Post, "Please assure Dr. Rove she's 100 percent."
"Look, I am the bête noire for the Democrats. I am the gift that keeps on giving to them," Rove told Hemmer. "My name shows up in more emails of being involved in more efforts to defeat Democratic candidates than I can count. So I'm confident that any time I make a statement that the Democrats are going to turn it into a fire."
This post has been updated.