By Abdon M. Pallasch and Lynn Sweet
Exhausted and, according to a friend, fighting to save his marriage, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. announced Monday he's been on a previously-undisclosed medical leave of absence for the past two weeks.
"I know he has been under a lot of pressure," said a Jackson friend in Washington, D.C. "He's been fighting really hard to save his marriage. And he had a tough election. There's been a lot of stuff."
The cause for his leave was said to be "exhaustion," according to Jackson's office, which has sent out at least 16 press releases -- many quoting Jackson -- in the two weeks since he dropped out of sight.
The Jackson friend, who saw him in early June at the Capitol, said he looked withdrawn and distracted, not his usual self.
Jackson, 47, a Democrat, cast his last vote in Congress on June 8. He has missed the votes since. No date has been set for his return.
"We missed him last week and kind of figured he may have been exhausted," said U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis, also a Chicago Democrat. "We knew that he at one time had some medical attention a few years ago, and so it does not surprise me. The heat may have just gotten the best of him for a little bit. The week before, Jesse was pretty much his normal self, laughing, singing, talking."
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