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Bill Clinton vouches for Hillary's health after Rove remarks, defends her handling of Benghazi

Former President Bill Clinton laughs as he answers a question from Gwen Ifill of PBS NewsHour regarding Republicans' questions regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton's head injury, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, at the 2014 Fiscal Summit organized by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in Washington. Lawmakers and policy experts discussed America's long term debt and economic future. (AP Photo)

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Former President Bill Clinton laughs as he answers a question from Gwen Ifill of PBS NewsHour regarding Republicans' questions regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton's head injury, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, at the 2014 Fiscal Summit organized by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in Washington. Lawmakers and policy experts discussed America's long term debt and economic future. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON - Former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday his wife Hillary took six months to recover from a 2012 concussion, adding she is now "stronger than I am" as he dismissed Republican strategist Karl Rove's comments about her health.

"I got to give him credit, you know, that embodies that old saying that 'consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,'" Bill Clinton said at a Washington conference. "First they said she faked her concussion. And now they say she's auditioning for a part on 'The Walking Dead.'"

The former secretary of state fell ill with a stomach bug in December 2012 after returning from a trip to Europe, leaving her severely dehydrated. While at home, she fainted and fell, suffering a concussion. The illness forced her to reschedule her testimony to Congress about the deadly attack months earlier in Benghazi, Libya.

The New York Post reported Tuesday that Rove suggested at a private conference near Los Angeles last week that Clinton suffered brain damage. Rove disputed that he was referring to any brain damage.

"I didn't say she had brain damage. I said she had a serious health episode," he said on Fox News.

Rove told Fox News, for which he is a commentator, that Clinton had a "serious health episode" that would be a legitimate issue for her in a potential bid for the Democratic presidential nomination "whether she likes it or not."

Clinton allies and the White House pushed back on Rove's comments, and Bill Clinton said he was "sort of dumbfounded" by the remarks.

"Look, she works out every week, she is strong, she's doing great. As far as I can tell, she's in better shape than I am," the former president said.

After Hillary Clinton's concussion, doctors discovered a blood clot in a vein that runs between the skull and the brain behind her right ear and she was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital for treatment with blood thinners. She was released after a brief hospitalization.

Bill Clinton said it was serious and took her six months to recover.

The former president also defended his wife's response to the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

His comments came as the House pushes ahead with a special select committee to investigate the attacks, U.S. security at the diplomatic mission, the military's response and the Obama administration's explanation of what happened.

Hillary Clinton is certain to be asked to testify by the Republican-led panel.

"In my opinion, Hillary did what she should have done, she impaneled a very high-level review committee," Bill Clinton said.

He was referring to the Accountability Review Board investigation by former diplomat Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"They looked into what was wrong, they gave 29 recommendations, she took them and started implementing them," Bill Clinton added.

House Speaker John Boehner has appointed seven Republicans to serve on the panel. Democrats are weighing whether to participate in an inquiry that many in the party have described as a political stunt, pointing to the multiple independent and bipartisan investigations that have already been conducted.

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