Chappaqua, N.Y. Right until he was wheeled into an operating room for a heart procedure, Bill Clinton was on the phone, talking about Haiti earthquake relief. An aide finally took the phone away from him.
On Friday, the 63-year-old former president seemed to have returned to multitasking, just a day after having a clogged artery reopened and two stents inserted into his chest.
“I feel great. ... I even did a couple miles on the treadmill today,” Clinton said, speaking to reporters in a leather jacket from the driveway outside his home. He said doctors advised him “not to jog but walk. Not to walk fast up steep hills for a week.”
Aides said Clinton’s second heart procedure in five years seemed unlikely to slow down his brutal work schedule, which included two trips to Haiti, stumping for Senate candidate Martha Coakley and attending an economic summit in Switzerland — all in just over a month.
“He’s working as hard as he’s ever worked. He’s done it for 63 years and will do it for the next 63 years. He’s never going to stop,” said Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist who helped guide Clinton’s first presidential bid in 1992.
But some other advisers said Clinton’s brief hospitalization was a reminder that his health has become more fragile. They worried that he’s running too hard.
“He’s got to slow down,” Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said on MSNBC Friday. “He’s got to slow down to a good, human schedule. He’s had a superhuman schedule for a long while, and he’s got to cut back. There’s no question about it.”
Advisers said the Haiti earthquake-relief effort has been Clinton’s main focus, and he appeared to return to that cause on Friday.
Through his foundation, Clinton put out a statement marking the one-month anniversary of the quake and urging people to donate. He said nothing about his health.
The Clinton Foundation’s Haiti fund has given $7 million to relief organizations in the aftermath of the quake that killed more than 200,000 people.
Clinton said Friday that he had been working long hours on the Haiti relief effort, including taking three overnight flights in a week. He said his first symptoms were about four days ago, when he felt “just a little bit of tingling, not pain.”