Though La Follette was speaking in front of a room of newspaper men, actual reporting on what happend -- and what he said -- is remarkably thin. But there is plenty of speculation on La Follette's mental and physical condition. "The Senator's friends realize that he is a sick man, and his physicians have declared that he must give himself a rest for the next fortnight," The New York Times begins its diagnosis. "After the Senator left the Publishers' dinner in Philadelphia last night, he was seized with a violent attack of nausea," they add. According to the Pittsburg Press, which has one of the more generous accounts of La Follette's speech, "The senator's present condition traces back to his recent Western trip, when, although taken dangerously ill with ptomaine poisoning in Chicago, he insisted on not disappointing any of his audiences," adding that La Follette's doctor had been "compelled to resort to powerful drugs to keep the senator on his feet." Going further, the Pittsburgh Gazette Times carried the opinion of Donald Seitz, business manager of the New York World and the toastmaster for the evening: "There is only one thing to it. He was suffering from aphasia. I have seen my father ill in the pulpit from just the same kind of attack." (The textbook definition: "The term aphasia means literally the loss of the power of speech. It was used originally to indicate the condition of those who from accident or disease affecting the brain had lost in part or entirely the power of expressing themselves in spoken words.")
In a separate New York Times story, Gen. Felix Agnus, publisher of Baltimore American had nothing but words of concern for his fellow Republican:
Scattered in the reports are some details of what actually happened: Within fifteen minutes the audience started rushing for the exits and there were calls for him to sit down. La Follette angrily told them, "I have the floor; those that don't care to listen had better get out." He continued to speak for two more hours or so. On hand to witness the event, The New York Times notes, was New Jersey Gov. Woodrow Wilson, the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. "Gov. Wilson sat at the right of Senator La Follette, and saw and heard his rival 'talk himself to death' in a political sense." And that is what happens when you pick a fight with newspapers in 1912.
Poll Time! Few American voters have phones in 1912 (according to the Census Bureau, there are 8.7 million telephones and a population of 95.5 million) but that doesn't mean there cannot be useless presidential polls. Newspapers around the country ask their readers to mail in post cards with their presidential preferences and then tally the results. Monday's New York Times has results from mail polls conducted by The Kansas City Star and The Minneapolis Journal, while the Pittsburg Press published its own mail poll results on Saturday. In all three tallies, Roosevelt has towering leads, while Democrats split the three polls. In Missouri, the largest of all the polls, Roosevelt dominated the Republicans. Among the Democrats, Rep. Champ Clark's home-state advantage gave him an edge, but just barely edging out three-time Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan. Meanwhile, Wilson was edged out of third place by former Missouri governor Joseph Folk: