January 19, 2006

Ford due for release from hospital

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Gerald Ford
was being evaluated for release on Thursday after undergoing
treatment for pneumonia at a California hospital, his
spokeswoman said.

Ford, 92, was admitted last weekend to Eisenhower Medical
Center in the California desert community of Rancho Mirage. A
spokeswoman for the former president said throughout the week
that he would likely be released on Thursday.

"President Gerald R. Ford remains a patient at Eisenhower
Medical Center," spokeswoman Penny Circle said in a statement.

"He continues to do well and improves daily," she said.
"His doctors are currently in the process of assessing him for
discharge at the time of this release."

Ford, who took office in 1974 after Richard Nixon resigned
amid the Watergate scandal, also spent time in the hospital in
December for what his office said were routine tests. He
suffered a mild stroke in 2000, and was hospitalized briefly in
2003 after suffering dizzy spells while playing golf in the
desert heat near Palm Springs.

Nixon named Ford as vice president to replace Spiro Agnew,
who stepped down to avoid prosecution on corruption charges.

Speaking of Watergate when he took office as the 38th U.S.
president, Ford vowed, "our long national nightmare is over."
Yet trouble dogged him for more than two years until he lost
the 1976 presidential election to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Ford stirred controversy by granting Nixon "a full, free
and absolute pardon" for any crime he may have committed in

Ford's 2 1/2-year term included two assassination attempts;
Cambodian seizure of the U.S. freighter Mayaguez; the fall of
South Vietnam; constant fights with Congress; and a clumsiness
that made him a butt of jokes.

Ford later served on corporate boards and toured the
lecture circuit before retiring to Rancho Mirage, near Palm
Springs, about 90 miles east of Los Angeles.