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RNC Chair Reince Priebus speaks at the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference.
Dr. Reince Priebus M.D. was asked to deliver his expert medical analysis on Sunday
Just in case you thought there was a chance that Republicans had actually figured out that 2016 would be a good time to pull their heads from their collective you-know-whats, along comes RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to set you straight. Appearing this weekend on NBC's Meet the Press, Priebus repeatedly stood with Karl Rove in going after Hillary Clinton's age.

It started when host David Gregory asked Priebus whether Rove should apologize for his allegation of brain damage. "I don't," said Priebus. "It's up to Karl Rove."

Pressed on whether Rove's comments were "over the line," Priebus said they weren't. "Look, I think that health and age is fair game," he said. When Gregory suggested that Rove's comments went beyond simply raising health and age, Priebus deflected. "Look, I don't think there's a graceful way to bring up age, health and fitness for a candidate that wants to be president of the United States," he said.

Gregory raised the issue again, asking Priebus whether he wanted to "sidestep" or "double down" on the topic. Priebus answered:

Listen, it's not a matter whether sidestep or double down. It's going to be an issue. It's going to come up, David. We're going to be at this point at some time if Hillary Clinton runs for president. I mean the issue of her health and her age is going to come up.
And then, to prove Reince's point that the issue would "come up," Gregory asked him to provide a medical diagnosis of Hillary's condition. "Do you think she suffered some sort of brain injury that raises legitimate questions about whether she's healthy to serve as commander-in-chief?"

Preibus answered:

I'm not a doctor. What I do know is that the issue's going to come up, as it does for any person running for president.
True, he is not a doctor. Which is why Gregory shouldn't have asked him that question. It's also true that the issue is going to come up. But it's worth remembering the reason that it's coming up now is because his party is bringing it up. These "questions" didn't spontaneously appear: They lurched into the open because Republicans are trying to smear Hillary Clinton.

And that means the next time David Gregory (or another journalist) asks Reince Priebus (or another GOP flack) about these smears, the question shouldn't be whether they think Hillary Clinton has brain damage: The question should be why are they pushing this smear right now? What are they afraid of?

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Mon May 19, 2014 at 08:48 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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