San­ders heart scare adds em­pha­sis to age ques­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Sen. Bernard San­ders is tak­ing time off from the cam­paign trail af­ter un­der­go­ing emer­gency surgery for a clogged artery, putting a spot­light on the 78-year-old’s health and re­viv­ing a ques­tion that has loomed over the 2020 pres­i­den­tial race: How old is too old to be pres­i­dent?

Mr. San­ders’ sup­port­ers said they have been as­sured there is no rea­son to hit the panic but­ton, and the hard­charg­ing and at times abra­sive Ver­mont in­de­pen­dent is ea­ger to re­turn to the cam­paign trail.

Other Democrats said they are re­lieved Mr. San­ders is OK but are con­cerned that his age and health could dash his pres­i­den­tial as­pi­ra­tions.

“I think, per­son­ally, this is a nail in his cof­fin,” said Randy Black, chair­man of the Iowa Demo­cratic Wing Ding who is re­main­ing neu­tral in the nom­i­na­tion race. “Peo­ple are go­ing to look at him and say, ‘I think you are too old.’ Sim­ple as that.”

Pres­i­dent Trump, who is 73, be­came the old­est pres­i­dent sworn into of­fice when he took the oath at the age of 70.

Mr. San­ders or for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Bi­den, 76, could es­tab­lish a new record if elected. Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren, 70, would be among the old­est.

The health scare came on the heels of the San­ders cam­paign’s an­nounce­ment that it had raised more than $25 mil­lion over the past three months.

It marked the big­gest sin­gle quar­terly haul by any of the 2020 Demo­cratic

“I have talked to just about all the can­di­dates, and his en­ergy out­shines al­most all of them, I think,” Mr. Cleaver said be­fore draw­ing a dis­tinc­tion with Mr. Bi­den. “It is a gen­er­a­tional thing with Bi­den. Bi­den to me acts slow and old at times, and not so with Bernie.”

Mr. Cleaver also said Mr. San­ders might turn his emer­gency into a pos­i­tive by us­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence to bol­ster his ar­gu­ment that ev­ery­one needs the level of health care he re­ceived and the best way to do that is through a “Medi­care for All” sys­tem.

That’s ex­actly what Mr. San­ders did af­ter his surgery. He said in a post on Twit­ter, “I’m for­tu­nate to have good health care and great doc­tors and nurses help­ing me to re­cover.

“None of us know when a med­i­cal emer­gency might af­fect us. And no one should fear go­ing bank­rupt if it oc­curs. Medi­care for All!”

An­other San­ders backer, Car­los Car­dona, chair­man of the La­co­nia, New Hamp­shire, Democrats, said he has the “ut­most con­fi­dence” that Mr. San­ders will be back on the trail this week and that his rev­er­ence for Mr. San­ders is grow­ing.

“I think age is just a num­ber for him,” he said. “His ex­pe­ri­ence and will to fight for the Amer­i­can pub­lic will prob­a­bly out­last all of us. He will be the next Jimmy Carter for sure, and Jimmy Carter is still build­ing houses in his 90s.”

Mr. San­ders, who would be 79 years old if elected pres­i­dent, might not want to take his po­lit­i­cal cues from Mr. Carter, who re­cently joked that the job should have an age limit.

“I hope there is an age limit,” the 95-yearold said last month. “You know, if I were just 80 years old, if I were 15 years younger, I don’t be­lieve I could un­der­take the du­ties that I ex­pe­ri­enced when I was pres­i­dent.”


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