Bernie Sanders campaign says demands for medical records similar to birther smear

Press secretary slams lack of scrutinty over other candidates who have released similar doctor's notes

Alex Woodward
New York
Wednesday 19 February 2020 19:34 GMT
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Sanders press secretary slams medical records requests as smear campaign

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After Bernie Sanders said that his campaign would not be sharing any further medical records following three letters from doctors showing the presidential candidate in good health, his campaign's national press secretary has compared demands for additional records to the discriminatory "birtherism" that dogged Barack Obama's campaign in 2008, when his opponents demanded to see his birth certificate.

Asked whether voters deserve to learn more about the Vermont senator's health after a heart attack late last year, Briahna Joy Gray told CNN that "people deserve to know exactly as much as every other candidate has released in this race currently and historically", then called the push for records part of a "smear" and "skepticism campaign."

She compared that campaign to the kinds of questions about where candidates are from and about "aspects of their lineage". Other candidates have released doctor's notes in the same format as ones provided by Mr Sanders's physicians.

Ms Joy argued that "it's really telling" that the same level of scrutiny hasn't been placed on billionaire former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who she incorrectly claimed had experienced a heart attack. Both candidates are the same age; Mr Bloomberg had heart stints placed in 2000, a procedure that Mr Sanders also had.

She later apologised, saying that she mispoke: "Rather, he underwent the same stent procedure as Bernie. Bernie released [three] detailed medical reports in December — just like the other candidates."

The "birther" movement, promoted by Donald Trump, relied on xenophobic and racist tropes to insist that former president Obama prior to his first election was not from the US. His opponents and critics demanded to see a "long form" birth certificate and drew other conspiracies after he had already provided proof of his birth in Hawaii.

Ms Gray suggested the Bloomberg campaign, which is climbing polls ahead of the Nevada caucus, is leading the latest "smear cmapaign" against Mr Sanders, who is the current frontunner in that state after winning the New Hampshire primary and virtually tying in Iowa.

She said: "If they were honest with themselves, [they] don't support Bernie Sanders for other reasons, largely, for the same reasons that millions of working Americans do support Bernie."

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