Bernie Sanders had some chest pain Tuesday and, after a medical evaluation, underwent surgery to place stents in his heart:
“Sen. Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days,” senior adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement Wednesday. “We are canceling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates.”
The Vermont lawmaker has kept up a relentless campaign schedule, particularly during the summer months, and often makes three or four stops a day in different regions. He was scheduled to attend a gun policy forum in Nevada on Wednesday, and then make seven appearances in California on Thursday and Friday.
At 78, Sanders is the oldest candidate in the Democratic field.
The big question is whether this unexpected break in his schedule hurts Sanders’ campaign going forward. Democratic strategist Jim Manley tells the AP, “Given his recent stalls in the polls, the timing is pretty bad here.” Maybe. I guess it’s possible this could be the moment the wind goes out of his sails and Elizabeth Warren, who seems to have lots of energy, really leaves him far behind in the polls.
But there could also be an upside to going away for a few days and returning in dramatic fashion. Over the years there have been various articles about the fact that Sanders, unlike most politicians, doesn’t like to talk about himself. He runs on policy rather than his own biography. But his campaign staff were hoping that would change a bit this time out:
As Sanders embarks on the early stages of his second presidential run, his aides and advisers are trying to figure out how best to balance the candidate’s often obsessive focus on his legislative agenda with a type of personal, inclusive touch that could potentially win over more Democratic voters. That tension has been manifested in everything from the composition of Sanders’ team to the degree to which he is willing to emphasize his own biography…
“He’s trying to find his voice on this because honestly he hasn’t really had a voice of sharing [a] first-person narrative about him. It’s just literally not the way he operates,” Shakir told The Daily Beast, noting that as of Friday morning they were still going back and forth about some of the contents of the upcoming speeches.
My guess is that Sanders still won’t want to talk much about his heart when he returns to the trail. He’ll play it off with a little humor and try to get back to talking policy. But whether he talks about it or not, the heart procedure humanizes him a bit. It’ll remind people he’s more than a litany of far-left proposals America can’t possibly afford. Maybe that will actually generate a warm feeling that his usual stump speech does not.
Already, Sanders is getting lots of well-wishes from his friends and political rivals on Twitter:
Bruce, Team Warren, and I are sending all our best wishes for a speedy recovery to @BernieSanders. I hope to see my friend back on the campaign trail very soon.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 2, 2019
.@DrBiden and I are sending our best wishes to @BernieSanders, Jane, and the whole Sanders family. Anyone who knows Bernie understands what a force he is. We are confident that he will have a full and speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him on the trail soon.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 2, 2019
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) October 2, 2019
Oh no. Stay strong Bernie. 🙏🇺🇸 https://t.co/wc7dzM8Yfv
— Andrew Yang🧢 (@AndrewYang) October 2, 2019
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) October 2, 2019
We want to send our best wishes for a quick recovery to @BernieSanders today. Our whole team has you in their thoughts.
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) October 2, 2019
Thinking of @BernieSanders today and wishing him a speedy recovery. If there's one thing I know about him, he's a fighter and I look forward to seeing him on the campaign trail soon.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 2, 2019
AOC is sending “love and solidarity,” which is basically thoughts and prayers for socialists.
Sending lots of love and solidarity to @BernieSanders today as he rests and recovers.
A lot of people don’t understand how crazy hard grassroots campaigning is – for organizers and candidates alike.
Rest up, friend. We’re with you!
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 2, 2019
A few rival candidates did mention prayers:
My prayers are with @BernieSanders and his family while he recuperates and rests. We love you, Bernie!
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) October 2, 2019
April and I extend our prayers to @BernieSanders and wish him a full and complete recovery from his surgery. His fighting spirit will sustain him during this time, as will the support and love of his family, friends and countless supporters.
— John Delaney (@JohnDelaney) October 2, 2019
@BernieSanders My heart is with you, Jane, and your family — we are sending you all of our aloha and praying for your quick recovery!
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 2, 2019
Finally, here’s Hillary and Chelsea Clinton reacting on the View:
— The View (@TheView) October 2, 2019
I’m just scratching the surface here. There are lots of reporters and regular people wishing Bernie well today. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes but I definitely wouldn’t assume he’s going to fall out of the race because of this interruption to his schedule.