WASHINGTON — Sen. Daniel K. Inouye took a spill at his Maryland home Thursday morning, cutting his head and heading to the hospital as a precaution.
Inouye also missed a vote the night before, raising a larger question about the 88-year-old senator’s health and ability to keep up a hectic pace.
A haggard campaign schedule through October had Inouye “tired,” but spokesman Peter Boylan says the senior statesman is in good health and that Thursday’s incident was something that could have happened to anyone.
Boylan said Inouye missed Wednesday evening’s cloture vote on the cybersecurity bill due to a classified meeting off of Capitol Hill, and that the missed vote was unrelated to Thursday’s fall.
“He’s fine. He’s healthy. Given his position, he sees a doctor on a very regular basis. He gets check-ups. He has no health problems to speak of,” Boylan said in an interview at Inouye’s office in the Hart building here. “Obviously, he gets tired. He keeps the schedule of a 22-year-old. Flying back and forth between here and Hawaii, and he has international responsibilities.”
In the six weeks since Inouye left Washington in early October, he traveled to the U.S.-Japan conference in Seattle, attended fundraising events for Diane Feinstein in San Francisco, went to Japan for a week of meetings with the defense minister, prime minister and emperor, went back to San Francisco for another campaign event, then headed to Sedona and Phoenix, Arizona, to campaign for Richard Carmona. He spent the weeks leading up to the election in Hawaii, but still didn’t take a break.
“He worked every single day. He attended a different event every day. He didn’t have a weekend off, he didn’t have a day off, he didn’t have a night off. Nothing,” Boylan said. “He’s got an incredible capacity for work, and he pushes himself very hard.”
That work ethic, Boylan said, can be traced back to Inouye’s time in the Army in World War II.
“This last month, that would take a toll on anyone. He was tired,” Boylan said. “I don’t think that the fall this morning is related. His health is not deteriorating. … He fell. It happens. People slip. People fall down. It was really just one of those things.”
Inouye, according to Boylan, did not lose consciousness but was taken to the Bethesda Naval Hospital as a precaution.
The mood in Inouye’s office was not especially subdued or somber, with staffers milling about and chatting in small groups. Boylan said he got his medical updates from Inouye’s wife, Irene, who was in good spirits and told him the trip to the hospital was purely precautionary.
“He fell down, got up on his own, he had a cut on the back of his head, he was bleeding, and he literally said, ‘Can someone put a bandage on this before I go to work.’ He was dressed and ready to go to work. And his family insisted, let’s just get this checked. It looks like you might need a stitch or two,” Boylan said. “It’s nothing more than a minor cut that’s going to require a couple stitches. It is nothing. It’s not part of some larger narrative about his health deteriorating.”
A few minutes after the interview, Boylan sent out a news release noting that Inouye and his family “would like to thank everyone for the well wishes and support. He is fine and resting at home.”
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