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Physician Denies Report by Woodward

September 29, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Reagan's former physician said Monday that Reagan's recovery from the 1981 assassination attempt was "superb" and disputed the description in a new book of a disoriented President who frightened aides by his poor condition.

"I never saw anything like that . . . . It's certainly news to me, and I was there most of the time," said Dr. Daniel Ruge, who retired in 1985 as physician to the President.

Washington Post editor-reporter Bob Woodward, in a new book about the late CIA Director William J. Casey, said that Reagan portrayed a robust recovery for the cameras but was actually slower to mend and return to his duties than widely believed.

"It's not true," Ruge said in a telephone interview from his Denver home. "I think his recovery was superb."

Ruge said he has usually refused to speak with the media but was interested in offering his version of the events during those tumultuous days.

"Obviously, there were times immediately after the shooting that we were worried; after all, the intent was to kill him, wasn't it?" Ruge said. "He got shot in the lung. He's entitled (to a recovery) as much as any other patient."

"I think anybody who was shot would agree with me," the physician added. "We're not talking about a scratch on the face. He was shot."

In another development related to Woodward's book, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater was asked whether Reagan had authorized Casey to seek the assassination of Sheik Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, leader of the militant Hezbollah faction in Lebanon.

"Clearly, the President never authorized any assassination efforts," Fitzwater replied. "Indeed, he has an executive order against it."

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