Sanders heart scare adds emphasis to age question
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.”