As Democratic candidates prepare for what is likely to be the most consequential debate of the cycle so far, Michael Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns are engaging in a back-and-forth over whether each is using the issue of their respective heart health as a form of innuendo.
Both candidates are 78, and the news media has raised the issue of their health as they vie to be the oldest person ever to be elected president. Most of the recent questions have been asked of Sanders, who suffered a heart attack last fall.
On Tuesday, at a CNN town hall event, Sanders said that he didn’t think the campaign would release more medical records after making public three letters from doctors providing some details on his status as well as such things as recent blood pressure and cholesterol tests. One doctor described him as “more than fit enough to pursue vigorous activities.”
In an interview with Sanders’ spokesperson Briahna Joy Gray on Wednesday, CNN’s John Berman said the three letters say “nothing” other than that Sanders is fit. “He had a heart attack in the fall,” he said. “Do you think the American people deserve to know more about his health going forward?”
“I think the American people deserve to know exactly as much as every other candidate in this race, currently and historically,” Gray said, arguing that what is unfolding is a “smear” and “skepticism” campaign that have been run against candidates in the past.
“It’s really telling given that none of same concern is being demonstrated for Michael Bloomberg, who is the same age as Bernie Sanders, who has suffered heart attacks in the past,” she said.
But Bloomberg has not suffered a heart attack. Gray later corrected herself on Twitter, writing: “I mispoke when I said Bloomberg had a heart attack. Rather, he underwent the same stent procedure as Bernie. Bernie released 3 detailed medical reports in December — just like the other candidates.”
Bloomberg’s campaign manager, Kevin Sheekey, wrote on Twitter, “’What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ shouldn’t apply to the medical records of Presidential candidates #BernieSlanders had a heart attack in Vegas 4 mo. ago & @briebriejoy is now lying as a distraction Clear where #BernieBros get their marching orders.” One of Bloomberg’s advisers called it a “Trumpy lie.”
Bloomberg did release a letter from his doctor last year that described the stent procedure that he underwent in 2000 for a blocked artery. The doctor also said that Bloomberg takes a blood thinner for atrial fibrillation but that he was in “outstanding health.”
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