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Don't be a Trump, Bernie, disclose medical records

When it comes to his medical records, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders seems to have taken a cue from President Donald Trump’s handling of his financial records. Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, is reneging on a vow to release his full health records after suffering a heart attack last year. Just as voters shouldn’t have allowed Trump to get away with scuttling the tradition of full financial disclosure by presidential candidates, they shouldn’t let Sanders set this troublesome new precedent.

Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy and other past presidents hid serious medical conditions from the public and generally got away with it, but times have changed. By Ronald Reagan’s time, the signs of dementia he displayed in office were considered a valid topic of discussion, for obvious reasons: A president’s health affects national security and can affect decision-making. If the health of the nation’s leader is in question, the public has a right to know.

Sanders, 78, was hospitalized in October for chest pains during a campaign event. Doctors inserted two stents to unblock an artery, a common procedure. But the campaign waited three days to let the public in on that relevant piece of candidate information.

When Sen. John McCain faced questions about his health, he released more than a thousand pages of medical records. Sanders has to date released only a few letters from doctors attesting to his health. This despite his vow back in October to release full medical records in the near future.

Or not. Two weeks ago, Sanders told NBC’s Chuck Todd that he has already released as much medical information as he intends to. “We have released as much documentation as any other candidate,” said Sanders. When Todd came back with the obvious response that no other candidate has had a heart attack on the campaign trail, Sanders talked about how vigorously he’s campaigning. That’s an argument for more disclosure regarding a heart issue, not less.

If elected, Sanders would be 79 by Inauguration Day, making him the oldest incoming president. His age, and the fact that he’s already had one heart attack, put him at greater-than-average risk of having another. Refusing to provide full disclosure not only raises concerns about his medical fitness, but make it easier for future candidates to skip this important part of the electoral vetting process. If Sanders won’t open the records, voters should view it as a deal-breaker.


The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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