Former President Ford has stroke

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The Independent US

Former U.S. President Gerald Ford was hospitalised after having a small stroke, doctors said Wednesday.

Former U.S. President Gerald Ford was hospitalised after having a small stroke, doctors said Wednesday.

Ford, who was honored Tuesday night on the floor of the Republican convention, was "having a little bit of trouble with his balance" and experiencing weakness in his left arm but is awake and thinking clearly, said Dr. Robert Schwartzman at Hahnemann University Medical Center.

"I think he'll do very well," Schwartzman said. He said the 87-year-old former president would likely be hospitalised for five or so days.

Asked whether the former president had suffered brain damage, the doctor said, "No, I don't think so." He said the effect of the stroke was being felt "mainly in his balance center" and added that he doubted there would be any permanent disability.

Ford walked into Hahnemann University Hospital at 9 a.m., hospital spokeswoman Whitney Hartman said.

Ford first went to the hospital after being honored Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention.

"He felt uncomfortable," said Calvin McDowell, a Ford aide. "That's what prompted him to come to the hospital."

On his first visit, Ford spent little more than a half-hour at Hahnemann University Hospital, according to Secret Service spokesman Mike Connoly.

"I feel good," the former president told reporters as he left the hospital, accompanied by his wife. After getting into a waiting car, he rolled down the window, pointed to his nose and said, "It's a bad sinus infection."

Penny Circle, Ford's chief of staff, called it an acute sinus attack. A doctor prescribed an antibiotic before he was released.

"It happened during the convention, during the time he was in the presidential box," she said, adding that he did not have to leave the convention hall early Tuesday night.

Ford, 87, was among three former presidents honored during the second night of the convention.

Ford told CNN's Larry King, in an interview broadcast Tuesday night, that "I couldn't be healthier. Betty and I are having a magnificent life: 52 years of married life, four great children, 15 grandchildren. Everything is breaking just right and I am delighted to be here at this convention after going to so many for so many years."

At Tuesday night's convention session, Ford was honored along with former Republican Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan for his role in the country's, and the GOP's, success.

Earlier in the day he answered a variety of questions on a TV call-in show on everything from the U.S. policy on Iran to whether President Bill Clinton should be pardoned for any charges he might face.

Ford, frail but congenial, answered virtually all of the questions with detail and acuity.

Ford, the 38th and only unelected president in America's history, took office minutes after Richard Nixon flew off into exile and declared "our long national nightmare is over."

But he revived the debate a month later by granting Nixon a pardon for all crimes he committed as president. That single act, it was widely believed, cost Ford election to a term of his own in 1976. He was in the White House only 895 days.

Ford also earned a place in the history books as the first unelected vice president, chosen by Nixon to replace Spiro Agnew who also was forced from office by scandal.

In a long congressional career in which he rose to be House Republican leader, Ford lit few fires. In the words of Congressional Quarterly, he "built a reputation for being solid, dependable and loyal - a man more comfortable carrying out the programs of others than in initiating things on his own."

When Agnew resigned in a bribery scandal in October 1973, Ford was one of four finalists to succeed him. Nixon picked Ford , saying he had known the congressman "longer and better than any of the rest." On Aug. 9, 1974, after seeing Nixon off to exile, Ford assumed the office.

After leaving the White House, he took up residence in the plush resort area of Palm Springs, California, picked up dlrs 1 million for his memoir and another dlrs 1 million in a five-year NBC television contract, and served on a number of corporate boards. By 1987, he was on eight such boards, at fees up to dlrs 30,000 a year, and was consulting for others, at fees up to $100,000. After criticism, he cut back on such activity.