It began with a nasty, recurring cough that she could not kick after a week of trying. So on Friday morning she went to her doctor’s office, not far from her home in Chappaqua, New York. Lisa Bardack’s diagnosis: pneumonia.

Bardack prescribed antibiotics and suggested that Clinton cut back her schedule and rest. But the Democratic presidential nominee refused. The election was just 60 days away, and Clinton wanted to grind it out – and that, to her, meant not telling many of her aides, let alone the public, about her illness.

Clinton’s decision set in motion perhaps the most damaging cascade of events for her in the general-election campaign – giving fresh ammunition to Republican nominee Donald Trump, who lags in the polls, and spoiling a two-week offensive she had plotted before the first debate.

Under mounting criticism over her lack of transparency, Clinton has agreed to release additional medical information in coming days. Rumors about the 68-year-old candidate have swirled for weeks in the conservative media, stoked by Trump and his surrogates.

Had Clinton heeded her doctor’s advice, she would not have gone to a glitzy fundraiser Friday night where she let her guard down and inartfully talked about Trump’s supporters, nor would she have been spotted collapsing Sunday morning at a 9/11 memorial ceremony.

But Clinton’s instinct was to keep her pneumonia largely a secret, according to interviews Monday with Clinton campaign officials. She left Bardack’s office and met with national security advisers. Later she mingled at the fundraiser.

That’s where the problems began. Before a friendly audience that included singer Barbra Streisand, Clinton jokingly said that “half” of Trump’s supporters were in a “basket of deplorables – racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.” The remark allowed Trump and his allies to paint Clinton as elitist, and she expressed contrition Saturday.

Then on Sunday, Clinton’s plan to “power through” unraveled. She abruptly left the Sept. 11, 2001, memorial ceremony in Lower Manhattan and ditched her traveling press corps. She felt overheated and dizzy. A video a witness recorded on his cellphone showed her wobbling, her knees buckling as Secret Service agents lifted her into a black van.

Clinton didn’t think she needed to go to a hospital, so she was rushed to daughter Chelsea’s apartment a few miles away.

There, in the air conditioning, Clinton drank Gatorade and cooled down. “She was telling anyone who would listen that she was fine,” spokesman Brian Fallon said Monday.

But outside, there was a major media storm. For 90 minutes, the public was in the dark about Clinton’s whereabouts – and for most of the day, about her illness. It was not until 5:15 p.m. that her campaign issued a statement from Bardack about Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis.

Some of Clinton’s allies voiced concern about her lack of transparency.

“Antibiotics can take care of pneumonia. What’s the cure for an unhealthy penchant for privacy that repeatedly creates unnecessary problems?” tweeted David Axelrod, President Obama’s former chief strategist.

At the White House, press secretary Joshua Earnest barely disguised his frustration during his press briefing Monday, a day before Obama is set to campaign for Clinton in Philadelphia.

“There’s a reason that we have had a long tradition in this country of individual candidates disclosing information about their health to the American public before the election,” Earnest said, noting that Obama did so as a candidate, and as president.

Former Ohio state senator Nina Turner, a prominent supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vermont) in the Democratic primary race, said: “People get sick. . . . It’s OK not to feel well. It’s all about the coverup.”

Clinton’s aides readily acknowledged Monday that they took too long in revealing the candidate’s whereabouts and medical condition. But they argued there was no expectation that she reveal the diagnosis any earlier because the pneumonia had not affected her public activities until Sunday.

“She didn’t see a need to tell people if she was going to continue her schedule,” said Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director. “She felt well enough to keep going. Power through. But obviously that didn’t work out.”

It was unclear how prepared Clinton’s staff was to manage the announcement of her pneumonia. Palmieri and Fallon refused to specify how many aides knew about the diagnosis Friday. It also was unclear whether Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (Virginia), was in the know.

Former Pennsylvania governor Edward Rendell said the campaign’s delay was regrettable.

“They probably should have initially acknowledged her initial diagnosis,” Rendell said. “But because Trump and (former New York mayor Rudy) Giuliani had raised the issue of her health so brutally and so unfairly, they were inclined to try to gut it out and not disclose.”

Clinton was scheduled to fly to California on Monday for two days of fundraising and to give a major economic address. Bardack recommended that she stay home. Clinton insisted on going, but aides overruled her.

Former president Bill Clinton plans to appear in his wife’s stead at two star-studded fundraisers Tuesday in Beverly Hills.

Bill Clinton told Charlie Rose of CBS News that his wife has “worked like a demon.” Asked if she could stay off the campaign trail for weeks, Clinton responded: “No, not a shot. I’ll be lucky to hold her back another day.”

Trump has sought to take maximum advantage. He said he had a physical last week – “I feel great,” he told Fox News Channel – and vowed to release the results Thursday on “The Dr. Oz Show.”

Trump’s advisers and allies think this is a potential turning point in the race and that with a disciplined approach, they can keep the Democratic favorite on the defensive heading into the Sept. 26 debate.

“This moment is shaping up to be a perfect storm for the Clinton campaign, something they have feared all along,” said Scott Reed, a veteran Republican strategist. “Democrats have to be asking themselves if this is the beginning of the end.”

Few Democrats shared that outlook.

“The debates are the perfect antidote,” Democratic operative Bill Burton said. “If she goes out and performs well in the debates, with the energy and vigor that everybody anticipates, it will put a lot of this to bed.”

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