Two colleagues who visited embattled Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. at his Washington, D.C. home Monday say he is en route to Rochester, Minn., for further in-patient treatment at the Mayo Clinic.
Fellow congressmen Danny Davis and Bobby Rush said there were times of laughter and tears during their 90 minute visit and that Jackson showed "surprising sharpness."
"He knows he is experiencing some extreme difficulties," Davis said.
Still, the two said Jackson is concentrating on recovering his health.
"He is not aware of all the media frenzy... because he is not all that involved," said Rush.
That would seem to contradict a picture which was painted last week of a Jackson who was a virtual prisoner in his own home because of the constant media presence outside. Published reports said that the congressman had found it difficult to visit his doctors, due to fears of running into a gauntlet of cameras outside his DuPont Circle home.
Rush insisted that Jackson’s "actions had been misread." He said his colleague, who had previously been known for his stellar voting record, had only missed 32 actual days of work since taking a leave of absence in June.
"Nothing occurred in those 32 days where his constituents suffered," Rush said.
"He expressed a great deal of concern for his family [and] a great deal of concern for his constituents," said Davis, who declared that Jackson needed to be given time to heal, "so that decisions he would have to make would be based upon a solid foundation of good solid mental and emotional healing."
Neither said what "decisions" Jackson was now facing. But there was no suggestion that those decisions concerned his electoral future. Indeed, Rush deflected questions about whether a congressman who could not even campaign, would have the capacity to serve.
"He should be given the opportunity to serve, based on the entirety of his record," Rush said, noting that Jackson is the Democratic party nominee. He pointedly noted that in the heavily Democratic district, "once you win the Democratic nomination, your chance of not being elected is pretty slim."
Still, the two pulled no punches in attempting to describe a friend and colleague who faces the need for continuing treatment.
"This man had to go to an emergency room," Rush said. "That’s how mental illness works."
Their visit comes as a new survey of more than 800 likely voters in Jackson's district gives him a 31 percentage point lead. The survey by We Ask America shows Jackson's support at 58 percent, Republican Brian Woodworth's at 27 percent and independent Marcus Lewis' at 15 percent.
The automated telephone survey was taken Sunday and has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.