WASHINGTON (AP) – Bernie Sanders says he’s “getting my endurance back” and “getting stronger every day” after last week’s heart attack, while promising to return to the presidential campaign trail “as soon as possible.”
“I am feeling great,” the 78-year-old Vermont senator said in a 7-minute video posted online Thursday.
He said that, while lying in a hospital bed in Las Vegas, “I thought about a lot of things, needless to say,” including “what would have happened” if he didn’t have health insurance through his job as a senator and Medicare.
Sanders insisted that “made me feel even more strongly the need for us to continue our efforts to end this dysfunctional and cruel health care system.”
“Understand the enormous opposition that we’re facing from the drug companies and the insurance companies,” he said of his promises to provide universal health insurance, if elected, through his proposed “Medicare for All” plan. “We are going to win this struggle. History is on our side.”
Sanders also said he thought, “Yeah, I’ve had a rough week. I’ve suffered adversity and that’s true and I don’t wish anybody to have a heart attack and get scared the way that our family did.” But he added that many people are dealing “with a lot more pain than I am” including homelessness, working multiple jobs but not making enough money to pay the bills or forgoing college because of fears about being overwhelmed by debt.
“We’re going to be out there on the campaign trail,” Sanders said, providing no details except that he would attend next week’s debate in Ohio.
His wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, has said he would stay in Vermont recuperating until then.
The self-described democratic socialist was hospitalized after experiencing chest discomfort while campaigning in Nevada last week. His staff initially said the stents were inserted for a blocked artery, revealing only two days later that he had had a heart attack.
Sanders took his message directly to supporters in the video after saying he “misspoke” when he previously suggested he may slow his campaigning pace after his health scare. Sanders backtracked in a Wednesday interview with NBC News just a day after indicating that health could force him to change “the nature” of his campaign and perhaps to not do so many events per day – in the short term, at least.
One of his national co-chairs, Nina Turner, seemed to back up that original sentiment, though, saying in a Tuesday interview with The Associated Press that the campaign was examining where and how to make changes to reflect concerns about Sanders’ health.
The focus on Sanders’ health comes as age plays a significant role in the 2020 presidential campaign. Should Sanders win the Democratic presidential nomination, he would be the oldest person ever elected. So would his 76-year-old Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.