Joe Biden, 76, Says He’ll Release Medical Records Before Iowa Caucus

September 14, 2019 Updated: September 15, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the oldest contenders for the presidency, said that he’ll release medical records before the Democratic primary vote in Iowa in February 2020.

Asked when he’d release the records while speaking to reporters in Texas on Sept. 13, he said, “After my next physical.”

“Before there’s a first vote, I’ll release my medical records. There is no reason for me not to release my medical records,” Biden added.

“What are the concerns? Man, want to wrestle?” he asked the reporter who inquired about the records, prompting laughter.

Biden, 76, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), 78, and Republican President Donald Trump, 73, are the three oldest contenders for the 2020 election. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), considered one of three Democratic frontrunners along with Biden and Sanders, is 70. Neither Sanders nor Warren have made a similar commitment; Trump released medical records last year.

Former Vice President Joe Biden responds to a question, during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston on Sept. 12, 2019. (David J. Phillip/AP Photo)

Biden last released medical records in 2008 after doctors discovered he had an irregular heartbeat. Biden suffered from the issue most recently in 2006 and the issue cropped up after having his gallbladder removed in June 2003. He also had a colonoscopy in 1996.

The records referenced a 2006 pulmonary function report and other tests showed scarring in Biden’s heart, though his doctors downplayed the test results.

Biden had surgery for two brain aneurysms, the second in 1998. He later said he was lucky to be alive.

When Biden was nominated by Barack Obama as his vice presidential candidate, Dr. Steven Lomazow, assistant professor of Neurology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said that the aneurysms concerned him.

“Joe Biden’s two cerebral aneurysm repairs appear to have been entirely successful and those areas are essentially better than new. The issue here is an assurance to the voting public that the man who is a heartbeat away from the most powerful office on earth has the best possible chance of surviving his term. Patients with a history of brain aneurysms can sometimes develop new ones,” he wrote in a blog post.

But Dr. Anthony J. Caputy, chairman of the neurology department at George Washington University Hospital, told CBS at the time it was “highly unlikely” Biden would experience the problem again.

“Once they’re dealt with, they’re dealt with,” Caputy said. “The likelihood that he would ever have any trouble is very small, even smaller than the general population.”

President Donald Trump speaks at the 2019 House Republican Conference Member Retreat Dinner in Baltimore on Sept. 12, 2019. (Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo)

Amid recent worries over Biden’s regular memory lapses—getting names, dates, and places mixed up—the doctor who operated on Biden stepped forward and said Biden was fine.

“He is every bit as sharp as he was 31 years ago. I haven’t seen any change,” Dr. Neal Kassell told Politico. “I can tell you with absolute certainty that he had no brain damage, either from the hemorrhage or from the operations that he had. There was no damage whatsoever.”

That hasn’t stopped rivals, including some in his own party, from attacking Biden over his age.

During the debate on Thursday, former Obama administration cabinet secretary Julian Castro targeted Biden over allegedly forgetting something he’d said minutes before. While many decried the attack, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), another presidential candidate, said after the event that Castro brought up legitimate concerns.

“There’s a lot of people concerned about Joe Biden’s ability to carry the ball all the way across the end line without fumbling, and I think that Castro had some really legitimate concerns about, can he be someone in a long, grueling campaign that can get the ball over the line, and he has every right to call that out,” he said. “There are definitely moments when you listen to Joe Biden and you just wonder.”

Trump has relished opportunities to call out Biden, telling reporters last month that Biden “is not playing with a full deck.”

“This is not somebody you can have as your president, but if he got the nomination, I’d be thrilled,” he said. “Joe Biden can’t answer a simple question; something’s gone wrong with him.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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