Posted: May 23, 2008 12:51 PM
Healthy McCain Releases Medical Records Amid VP Rumors
Likely GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, who has survived three bouts with melanoma, released some 1,173 pages of his medical records from the past eight years to select media outlets on Thursday.
The Arizona senator is still as risk for a return of skin cancer after he had several malignant spots removed. Still, doctors say, McCain has no major areas of concern, and his health records show consistent examinations every few months.
“We don’t have a crystal ball, but we have no way to say anything at the present time would preclude him from running for office,” dermatologist Suzanne Connolly told the Associated Press.
The 72-year-old would be the oldest first-term president in United States history if elected, and questions of his age and health have arisen throughout his campaign. McCain himself, in NewsHour a newsmaker interview with Jim Lehrer in 2000, said he thought he might be too old to run for president.
“By 2008, I think I might be ready to go down to the old soldiers’ home and await the cavalry charge there,” he said.
McCain’s long-time doctor, however, said Friday that he is healthy and fit.
“I think physiologically he is considerably younger than his chronologic age based on his cardiovascular fitness,” Dr. John Eckstein of the Mayo Clinic told the AP.
In a recent heart stress test, McCain was able to last 10 minutes, while patients his age and younger usually tire out around five or six minutes, the AP reported.
“I got a call from the cardiologist who said that he had not seen anyone that age exercise for that long in a long time,” Eckstein said.
McCain, a former Navy pilot and prisoner of war, suffer from degenerative arthritis as a result of war injuries and may need joint replacement someday, the AP reported. While his cholesterol is good for his age, it is “not optimal.”
The senator will spend his Memorial Day weekend relaxing at his family ranch in Sedona, Ariz. Although the trip has been billed as purely social, its guest list has caused a frenzy of rumors over who McCain is considering as a running mate.
Joining McCain and wife Cindy will be Republican Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Massachusetts Gov. and Republican primary rival Mitt Romney, along with their spouses.
All three have been mentioned as possible finalists to become a vice-presidential running mate for McCain. Crist, a long-time McCain supporter, has been a champion for energy reform, like McCain, in recent years. His appeal in Florida could help McCain to win voters in the contentious swing state.
Jindal, who is only 37 years old, could help to balance the GOP ticket against any perceived disadvantage over McCain’s age. As the first Indian-American governor elected in U.S. history in 2004, Jindal could help McCain make inroads with moderates and conservative minorities.
Between all of his former rivals in the Republican primary race, McCain by far traded the sharpest barbs with Romney. The two sparred on border security and most vehemently, the economy. As a successful businessman, Romney could help improve the McCain campaign’s perceived naivete on the economic crisis. As the only Mormon in the race, Romney could help McCain with religious conservatives though some voters were also turned off by his faith. Even with the religious wild card, Romney could lend considerable campaign funds and a well-known public image to the Republican ticket.
McCain’s own ties to religion were under question in the recent days as he rejected an endorsement from his former pastor John Hagee.
Hagee has made controversial remarks, specifically about the success of Hitler in getting Jews to “come back to the land of Israel.”
“A hunter is someone with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. And the Bible says…’They shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and from the holes of the rocks,’” Hagee said in a sermon, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them,” Sen. McCain said Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported. “I feel I must reject his endorsement.”
Who the Republican nominee-in-waiting will choose as his vice president will inevitably be pinned to which Democratic candidate he ends up opposing. Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama reportedly selected someone to head up a search team for his own VP. Coupled with McCain’s running mate search, both campaigns are signaling that Obama, whose ties to his controversial former pastor created a stir, appears to be the likely Democratic nominee.
Obama plans to work with former Fannie Mae chief executive James A. Johnson, sources said, according to the Washington Post. Johnson, a prominent Obama supporter, also helped former Democratic nominees John Kerry and Walter Mondale.
Despite Democratic sources saying Johnson has been selected, Obama was careful not to appear to have clinched the nomination and denied the tie.
“I haven’t hired him. He’s not on retainer. I’m not paying him any money. He is a friend of mine,” Obama told reporters Thursday, the Post reported. “I am not commenting on vice presidential matters, because I have not won this nomination.”