Greensboro, N.C. — Walking in to the wails of James Brown's "I Feel Good," Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton returned to the campaign trail on Thursday at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro after taking three days off to recover from pneumonia.
"I tried to power through it, but even I had to admit that maybe a few days of rest would do me good," Clinton told a crowd of supporters. "The campaign trail doesn't really encourage reflection. It's important to sit with your thoughts now and then, and that did help me reconnect with what this whole campaign is about."
She said too many families can't afford to take time off when they are sick or their children are sick, and they find themselves on their own if they lose a job, can't afford college or are unable to care for an aging parent.
"Life events like these are catastrophic for some families but mere bumps in the road for others," she said. "Some things should not come down to luck. Some things should be within reach for everyone no matter what, like financial security, like affordable health care."
Clinton's health has been at the forefront of the campaign news cycle since the weekend, when she left a 9/11 memorial service in New York City after becoming dizzy and dehydrated. Video of Clinton leaving the event showed her stumbling and being held up by aides. Later Sunday, her campaign revealed she had been diagnosed with pneumonia.
Clinton's campaign on Wednesday released a letter from her doctor declaring her "fit to serve" as president and recovering well from her illness. The letter – the first substantial update on her health in more than a year – details the medications she is taking, her cholesterol levels and other results from a physical exam.
She showed off her renewed vigor in a 20-minute speech by attacking Republican rival Donald Trump, calling him a "loose cannon" and a "showman," and criticizing the plan he rolled out Tuesday to help working families with child care.
Trump proposed guaranteeing six weeks of paid maternity leave to employees whose employers don't offer leave already, offering incentives for employers to provide child-care options at work and allowing parents to fully deduct the average cost of child care from their taxes, as well as costs associated with caring for elderly dependent relatives.
"We don't need a president who apparently thinks only married people deserve paid leave and only mothers ever stay home with the kids," Clinton said. "We don't need someone who rushes out a half-baked plan just weeks before an election after decades of ignoring or putting down working moms."
Unlike her opponents, she said, her campaign has spelled out dozens of policy proposals, and she plans to carry them out to help working families, the disabled, the elderly and children.
"People accuse me of all kinds of things," she said. "But nobody ever accuses me of quitting, and I will never give up. I'll never walk away, no matter how tough the going gets. I'm actually asking Americans to hold me accountable for my ideas and hold my opponent accountable for his."
Clinton also slammed Republican political leaders in North Carolina for trying to restrict voting access and for standing behind House Bill 2, which prohibits discrimination protections for gay and transgender people.
"I'm running for the LGBT teenager here in North Carolina who sees your governor sign a bill legalizing discrimination and suddenly feels like a second-class citizen," she said.
The decisions this week by the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference to pull sports events out of the state because of House Bill 2 show "where bigotry leads, and we can't afford it, not here, not anywhere else in America," she said.
Still, Clinton's health was the main point of the rally for many of those who attended.
"I don't think her health is as much of a issue for her as it is a perception issue," Trent Turk said. "People are worried that the stress of the job will eat away at her. I don't think it's a major issue for her personally. I think we perceive it as an issue."