A campaign aide to Bernie Sanders has retracted a claim that his Democratic presidential rival Michael Bloomberg suffered heart attacks in the past after a backlash from the latter’s camp.
Briahna Joy Gray, the national press secretary for the Sanders campaign, said she “misspoke” after making the remark while defending Mr Sanders’s refusal to publish his full medical records.
She backtracked after a Bloomberg campaign adviser accused her of deploying a “Trumpy lie”, a reference to the US president Donald Trump, who is up for re-election in November.
Mr Sanders and Mr Bloomberg, who are polling high among who Democrats want as their nominee but outlining starkly different pitches, were due to share a debate stage with other candidates last night in Nevada, the next state to vote.
Mr Sanders, 78, is democratic socialist and Vermont senator who pledges “political revolution”. Mr Bloomberg, also 78, is a billionaire and former New York mayor who was once elected a Republican.
Ms Gray was asked during a CNN appearance about Mr Sanders’s decision not to release his full medical records despite having a heart attack in October. She criticised the focus on the issue in response.
“It’s really telling given that none of the same concern is being demonstrated for Michael Bloomberg, who is the same age as Bernie Sanders, who has suffered heart attacks in the past,” Ms Gray said.
Tim O’Brien, a senior adviser to Mr Bloomberg, called out the comment on Twitter, writing: “This is such a Trumpy lie from the Sanders camp, which rolls like Trump in many ways.
“Mike Bloomberg has *never* had a heart attack. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has had a heart attack. Those are the facts. It’s a dangerous time when Sanders goes all in with Trumpism.”
Ms Gray later clarified: “I misspoke when I said Bloomberg had a heart attack. Rather, he underwent the same stent procedure as Bernie. Bernie released 3 detailed medical reports in December — just like the other candidates.”
On Wednesday night Mr Bloomberg will appear for the first time on the Democratic debate stage, facing off against rivals who have already appeared in more than half a dozen such clashes.
He has not appeared in a political debate while seeking office for 11 years, according to NPR, and is facing intense scrutiny amid increasing attacks from other candidates.
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