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    Reno collapses during speech

    The Democratic candidate for governor is taken to a New York state hospital and is said to be ''doing very well.''

    [AP photo]
    In this TV image, Janet Reno is on the stage after collapsing at the University of Rochester.

    By MIKE BRASSFIELD, STEVE BOUSQUET and ADAM C. SMITH
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 31, 2002
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    Janet Reno, a Democratic candidate for governor and former U.S. attorney general, collapsed Wednesday night while giving a speech before more than 700 students at the University of Rochester in New York.

    Her medical condition was being evaluated early this morning in a Rochester hospital.

    Darrell Grigg, a spokesman for Rural/Metro Medical Services, which transported Reno by ambulance to the hospital, said Reno's signs were "very stable."

    "She is doing very well right now," Grigg said late Wednesday.

    Reno, who is 63 years old and has Parkinson's disease, started her speech about 9 p.m. She had been standing at the podium for about 45 minutes when she said, "You're going to have to excuse me for a minute, I'm going to have to sit down."

    "That's when she started to lose it, and that's when she collapsed," said Tim Hill, a reporter for R News, a 24-hour cable news station in Rochester.

    Reno was conscious when she was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital at the University of Rochester. She was expected to stay at the hospital until this morning as a precaution, Hill said.

    Another Rochester television reporter described Reno's collapse as a "fainting spell" and reported that she initially declined to go to a hospital.

    Before the speech, Reno attended a fundraiser for her campaign that was arranged by Sally Winslow, a cousin who lives in Rochester. She also spoke at a press conference at the university. Reporters noticed Reno shaking visibly at the press conference, where she had to be helped down from a stage, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported.

    A Reno campaign spokeswoman, Julie Simon, said late Wednesday night that Reno has experienced no similar health problems since she started campaigning in earnest last fall.

    Because of her Parkinson's disease, Reno's health and stamina have been watched closely by the media and political observers since she first indicated an interest in running for the Democratic nomination for governor last spring.

    Reno has said doctors have told her that the stress of the campaign would not exacerbate her Parkinson's disease, diagnosed in 1995, and that it would not affect her performance in office. She has said the disease wouldn't affect her campaign.

    Parkinson's is a neurological disease that causes the progressive degeneration of brain neurons that control muscle movements. It causes Reno's hands and arms to tremble.

    Before Reno announced she was running for governor, she had been on the national speaking circuit. Wednesday's speech was one of the last speaking commitments she had to fill.

    The other prominent Democratic candidates for governor are Tampa lawyer Bill McBride, state House Minority Leader Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, and state Sen. Daryl Jones of Miami. The nominee would face Republican incumbent Jeb Bush in November.

    -- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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