Following the revelation that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a top 2020 Democratic presidential contender, had suffered a heart attack during a campaign event, many wondered whether the 78-year-old socialist would continue his campaign.
However, despite initially suggesting he would scale back, Sanders is now emphasizing that he is “not a quitter” and intends to keep pressing forward toward his goal of reaching the Oval Office.
Never considered dropping out
In a Thursday interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Sanders was asked if he had considered actually dropping out of the race after his heart attack.
“No,” Sanders replied, “because … when you hear the word ‘heart attack,’ you’re thinking of somebody lying on the ground in terrible pain. Wasn’t the case, OK?”
“The day I woke up, after the procedure, no pain, zero pain. No pain right now. I feel really good,” he said.
“I’m not a quitter”
The senator said he spent some time thinking about how he’d spent his whole adult life pushing for certain policies and priority issues, and he wasn’t quite ready to throw in the towel just yet.
“We have had significant success in kind of transforming the dialogue in America,” Sanders said. “Many of the issues that I talked about four years ago — that were considered radical then — are kind of mainstream today. Many of my Democratic opponents are saying today what I said four years ago.”
“So, we’ve struggled really hard to get to where we are right now, bringing millions of people together in the fight for justice, and I’m not a quitter,” he added, and stressed that he didn’t want anyone else to go through the “adversity” of a heart attack like he had.
“Ready to go full blast”
CNN reported that Sanders and Dr. Gupta spent some time discussing the heart attack itself, such as the symptoms he had felt beforehand, how his campaign handled sharing the news with the public, and his plans for continuing forward with his presidential campaign in the wake of that health scare.
The Sanders campaign had been criticized for not admitting that his “chest discomfort” was actually a heart attack for several days. But Sanders said his campaign simply wanted to wait until it had all of the information available before saying anything. As for his remarks earlier in the week about scaling back his campaign — which fueled the speculation he might soon drop out — he clarified that a reduction in scheduled events would only be temporary.
“Well, what I mean is probably next week I’m not going to do four rallies a day. I think I’ve done more rallies than any other candidate who’s currently running for president of the United States,” Sanders said. “But I’m feeling great and we’re going to run a vigorous campaign. We’re working on our schedule right now, which is going to take us to Iowa, to Nevada, probably back to New Hampshire.”
“We’re ready to go full blast,” Sanders said.