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Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in critical condition at Texas hospital

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge speaks at a rally outside the White House on Dec. 12, 2011. (Erin Sutherland/TNS)

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is in critical condition at a Texas hospital following a medical procedure Thursday morning, according to a statement from a spokesman.

Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania, had been attending the Republican Governors Association conference at the JW Marriott in Austin when he called hotel staff about 7 a.m. for assistance, spokesman Steve Aaron said. The former governor was transported to Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas, where he underwent cardiac catheterization, Aaron said.

Ridge was responsive to his physicians, his spokesman said.

Ridge, 72, a onetime U.S. House member from Erie, was elected governor in 1995 and served two terms. In 2001, President George W. Bush named him be the first head of the new Homeland Security department.

The news stunned the state Capitol.

“Prayers going to former Gov Ridge for a quick, full recovery,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, tweeted.

From House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, on twitter: All best wishes to former Gov. Tom Ridge who’s facing a health issue. From our time together in #PaGovt I know him to be a fighter who doesn’t back down from any challenge.

One of Ridge’s successors, Gov. Tom Wolf, released a statement saying he and his wife are praying for Ridge and his family. “We know Tom is a fighter and the Ridges should know that all of Pennsylvania is pulling for them as he recovers,” Wolf said.

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© 2017 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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