CHICAGO -- U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who disappeared on a secretive medical leave two months ago, is expected back home within a matter of weeks, an aide said Thursday.
Jackson, 47, currently is being treated for depression and gastrointestinal issues at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and has been away from the public eye since June 10 when family members said he collapsed at their Washington home.
Jackson aide Rick Bryant said he recently spoke with Jackson, who asked Bryant to reach out to mayors and get updates on projects in his district, which includes parts of Chicago and stretches south.
"He's been in touch over the weeks. This was the most engaged he was," Bryant told The Associated Press. "He seemed like his old self."
Bryant said Jackson could emerge from leave in possibly three weeks, but it will be up to doctors.
Jackson's office has released few details about the congressman's health. At first his medical condition was described as exhaustion. Later, a statement from an unnamed doctor referred to it as a "mood disorder."
It was only earlier this month that Jackson's office said he was at Mayo and being treated for depression, after a transfer from the Sierra Tucson Treatment Center in Arizona.
"He expects to make a full recovery and hopes to be on the job soon," Bryant said. "He has not talked to his base in a while."
Jackson, who first won office in 1995, is on the November ballot with two little-known candidates. He's widely expected to win re-election in the heavily black, urban and Democratic district that has recently been redistricted to include more rural and white voters.
However, the sporadic and sparse details released about Jackson's condition since his leave began have prompted much scrutiny and speculation. His office did not disclose it publicly until June 25, nearly two weeks in. Members of his prominent family – including his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson – have been reluctant to talk.
However, Sandi Jackson said Thursday that doctors are trying to determine the proper mix of medications for her ailing husband.
"At this point, we are taking every day one day at a time," said the alderman during a street naming ceremony. "But we here on the ground are preparing for his eventual return. We don't know when that's going to be, but we want his constituents to know that they are very much on his mind."
Sandi Jackson said the family is taking every day one at a time, but is preparing for his eventual return. She said her husband was "getting better" and talking to their children every morning and evening.
"We know that of the millions of Americans that suffer from depression, many go back to work and live very fruitful lives," she said. "I expect Jesse will too."
The timing of the leave – which comes as Jackson is under a House Ethics Committee investigation for ties to imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich – also raised questions. The committee is investigating allegations Jackson was involved in discussions about raising money for Blagojevich's campaign in exchange for the then-governor appointing him to President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat.
The announcement of the leave also came just days after a former fundraiser connected to the allegations was arrested on unrelated federal medical fraud charges.
Jackson has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
The Huntsman Girls
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman's three oldest daughters made a name for themselves by tweeting from the campaign trail using the <a href="http://twitter.com/Jon2012girls" target="_hplink">@jon2012girls</a> account in 2012. Liddy, Mary Anne and Abby, all in their mid-twenties, have steadily gained followers since the campaign. Huntsman's daughters have also done a slew of television interviews, and have produced a few campaign videos of their own--most notably, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOYVB2hc0HA" target="_hplink">a parody</a> of Herman Cain's infamous smoking ad.
Arizona Senator John McCain's daughter was a staple on the campaign circuit in 2008, often blogging about life on the trail. Meghan, who has been vocal on issues like same-sex marriage and abstinence-only education, hoped to help her father connect with the younger generation of voters. The 27-year-old has since parlayed her campaign season fame into a career as a political commentator. She writes a column for the Daily Beast, released a campaign memoir in 2010 and was recently hired as an MSNBC contributor.
The Romney Brothers
Former Massachusetts Governor Romney's five sons, who were a frequent sight on the campaign trail in 2008, have reemerged to support their father in his latest presidential bid. Oldest son Tagg has been giving interviews and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/13/mitt-romneys-son-tagg-to-woo-young-gop-donors_n_1144965.html" target="_hplink">courting</a> young GOP donors, while middle child Josh meets with voters in Iowa. Craig, Mitt's youngest son, has also made a few appearances with his father.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the son of libertarian Ron Paul, has been active in his father's latest presidential campaign. He often sends e-mails on behalf of the elder Paul, a congressman from Texas, and has made appearances on the trail to stump for his dad.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum's 20-year-old daughter--shown here during her father's unsuccessful re-election bid in 2006-- was a fixture on her dad's failed 2012 presidential run. Currently a student at the University of Dallas, Elizabeth took time off from her studies to meet with voters in Iowa, host events and give radio interviews.
In 2008, GOP Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin's family made a splash on the campaign trail. The former Alaska governor's five children--Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig--often appeared at campaign events with their mom, even after news broke that teenage Bristol was pregnant.
Beau, Delaware's Attorney General, introduced his soon-to-be-VP dad Joe at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. His speech, which detailed the auto accident that killed his mother and sister, moved some delegates to tears.
Mike Huckabee's daughter, Sarah, took on a bigger role in her father's campaign than the usual routine of stump speeches and photo-ops. She acted as her dad's field director and top campaign adviser, and reportedly played an integral role in her dad's surprising Iowa caucus win.
Cate first started campaigning with her dad, a former Senator from North Carolina, while an undergrad at Princeton in 2004. During his 2008 campaign, she started making campaign stops on her own in key states like New Hampshire. After news of her father's affair broke, her role took a decidedly different turn as she stood by Edwards during his perp walk from a Winston-Salem courthouse.
The Bush Twins
The Bush Twins were notably absent on the trail in 2000, but became more publicly involved in George W. Bush's reelection campaign in 2004. They made appearances on their father's bus tour through swing states, and worked at the campaign's Arlington headquarters.