Former Gov. Tom Ridge In Critical Condition After Heart Procedure

November 17, 2017 GMT

Former Gov. Tom Ridge, the nation’s first Homeland Security secretary, is in critical condition following a heart procedure at a Texas hospital, according to a news release issued by a Harrisburg public relations firm.

Ridge, 72, was attending the Republican Governors Association conference at the JW Marriott Hotel in Austin. He called hotel staff seeking medical assistance around 7 a.m., according to Steve Aaron, his spokesman. Ridge underwent an emergency cardiac catheterization at Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas. He has been responsive with his physicians.

A cardiac catheterization is a procedure to examine how well the heart is working, according to the American Heart Association. It involves a thin hollow catheter tube being inserted into a large blood vessel that leads to your heart.

In a statement, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said he and his wife are praying for a speedy recovery.

“Frances and I are praying for Gov. Ridge and his whole family, especially Michele and their kids,” Wolf said. “We know Tom is a fighter and the Ridges should know that all of Pennsylvania is pulling for them as he recovers.”

Ridge, then a GOP U.S. congressman from Erie, was elected governor in November 1994. He was a moderate Republican who championed lower taxes, school choice, tougher prison sentences and gun control measures. He easily won a second term in 1998. Ridge cut his second term short when he agreed to be President George W. Bush’s Homeland Security secretary following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Ridge served in that federal role until 2005.

Ridge’s rise to prominence is the quintessential American Dream.

He grew up in public housing and earned a scholarship to Harvard University. He survived combat and came home from the Vietnam War to finish a law degree and marry a librarian before being elected to Congress and then governor and serving his nation in the fight against global terrorism.

In recent years, Ridge has spoken out against hate, bigotry and partisan gridlock that has pervaded U.S. politics.

In 2016, ridge was one of 50 GOP officials who signed a letter calling then GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump unfit and unqualified to be commander in chief.

“Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be president,” the letter said. “He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.”

Last month, Ridge bucked Trump again by defending NFL players Trump criticizing for kneeling during the national anthem.

“I don’t believe that a single NFL player who takes a knee or raises a fist intends to dishonor the flag that draped the coffins of deceased black veterans interned at Arlington or anywhere else,” Ridge wrote in a Pennlive editorial. “To assume otherwise is a false narrative that seeks to divide rather than unite.

“Let us accept the reality. Let those who deny its existence look honestly into their own hearts, consider our history and perhaps their own individual experience and conclude that racism and racial inequality doesn’t exist. They will be in a very small minority. Let those who accept that racism in its many forms exists in our country begin a peaceful, non-confrontational dialogue to identify specific actions that can be taken to address it.”


©2017 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)