Hillary Clinton returns – and not a moment too soon

Story highlights

Clinton returns for her first public appearance since leaving the 9/11 memorial service early on Sunday

She will hold a rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, a key swing state

Greensboro, North Carolina CNN  — 

Hillary Clinton returned to the campaign trail Thursday, four days after her near fainting spell, with little room for another misstep.

The moment she took the stage, Clinton addressed the topic that has overwhelmed headlines since Sunday: Her health. She acknowledged to the Greensboro, North Carolina, crowd that being forced to stay at home following her pneumonia diagnosis at such a crucial moment in the election wasn’t easy to stomach.

“As you may know, I recently had a cough that turned out to be 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 said, after walking out into a school gymnasium to James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good).” “I’m not great at taking it easy even under ordinary circumstances, but with just two months to go until Election Day, sitting at home was pretty much the last place I wanted to be.”

CNN/ORC Polls: Trump’s national gains extend to Florida, Ohio

After grudgingly following her doctor’s orders to slow down and rest to recuperate from pneumonia – and watching Donald Trump seize the spotlight and pull even or ahead in some key swing states such as Ohio – the Democratic presidential nominee has signaled she is eager to make a feisty comeback at a crucial moment in the election.

One of the last times the public saw Clinton, she was being helped into a van by her security detail, her knees buckling and body slouching over as she lost her balance.

Clinton said she spent the time at home reflecting, as she mused that “the campaign trail doesn’t really encourage reflection.”

“It turns out, having a few days to myself was actually a gift,” she said.

With less than two months until Election Day, polls have begun to tighten. In Clinton’s absence, Trump and his surrogates were free to relentlessly attack the former secretary of state with relatively little pushback. Trump particularly zeroed in on Clinton’s in artful comments from last Friday night, in which she described half of Trump’s supporters as being in a “basket of deplorables.”