Clinton in good spirits as he awaits surgery |

Clinton in good spirits as he awaits surgery

Associated Press

NEW YORK – Former President Bill Clinton was in good spirits Saturday, walking around his hospital room in street clothes and buoyed by thousands of get-well messages as he awaited heart bypass surgery early this coming week, people close to the family said.

Clinton was expected to undergo surgery as early as Monday but probably Tuesday, said Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who said the former president was “upbeat” when he spoke to him by phone Friday.

“I thanked him for getting the Democrats back on the front page, and he told me that’s about as far as he’s willing to go,” McAuliffe said Saturday. “I said I needed him out on the campaign trial as soon as possible, and he said as he soon as he recuperates he’ll be ready to go.”

He was to undergo triple or quadruple bypass surgery, according to a person close to Clinton who requested anonymity.

Clinton’s wife and daughter visited him in the hospital Saturday, and he had received 15,000 get-well messages relayed from the Web site of his foundation, a spokeswoman said.

One message posted on the Web site Saturday read: “I’m having an awfully hard time imagining anything big enough to block a heart as large and generous as yours, but I hope you have the best surgeons in the country working on it.”

Another, from a self-described “Reagan Democrat” said: “While I did not vote for President Clinton, nor agreed with a lot of his points of view, I always liked him. … In March of 2002, I underwent quad bypass surgery, so I know what he will going through in the coming hours, days, and months. My prayers are with him.”

Clinton was admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia on Friday after suffering chest pains and shortness of breath.

He had been scheduled to accompany his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, on a two-day tour of upstate New York. Instead, the senator and the couple’s daughter, Chelsea, joined Clinton in New York City.