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Bradley: Might invoke 25th Amendment for heart procedure if needed

From Jeanne Meserve and Beth Fouhy/CNN

January 29, 2000
Web posted at: 8:24 p.m. EST (0124 GMT)

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) -- Officials with the Bill Bradley presidential campaign on Saturday confirmed a New York Times report that Bradley might invoke the 25th Amendment if he required a cardioversion for his irregular heartbeat, or atrial fibrillation. Cardioversion is a medical procedure where the heart is electrically jolted back to regular rhythm while the patient is placed under general anesthesia.

The 25th amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the president to make a written declaration to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House if he is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." At that point, the Vice President would assume the President's duties.

Bradley Communications Director Anita Dunn says the candidate had not considered the question until it was posed by the New York Times reporter, Lawrence Altman, who filed a lengthy piece on Bradley's health and heart condition in the Sunday edition of the Times. Bradley asked Altman what contingencies President George Bush had made, since he had also suffered periodic episodes of irregular heartbeat while in office. According to Dunn, when Altman told Bradley Bush had planned to invoke the 25th Amendment if necessary, Bradley said it was a reasonable idea.

When asked why Bradley had not given the matter thought before Altman raised the question, Dunn likened it to the fact that he had not considered at great length who he might pick as a running mate.

Bradley's condition was first disclosed December 10, 1999 when a flare-up caused him to cancel several campaign appearances in California. Medical records released by the campaign at the time revealed that Bradley had first been diagnosed in 1996 and was taking medication to control the condition. The records also disclosed that Bradley had undergone three cardioversions since 1996 but none since taking his current medication.

During the December 10 episode, Bradley was taken to the hospital to undergo a cardioversion, but his heart returned to normal rhythm on its own and did not require treatment.

Since then, Bradley has acknowledged several recurrences of the condition, the latest being January 22. Each one was brief and did not require medical intervention.

Dunn repeatedly pointed out that Bradley is in excellent health. The proof of that, says Dunn, is his campaign schedule which today took him north to the town of Berlin.

Another Bradley official insisted it was not damaging to have the story released just days before the New Hampshire primary. He said he didn't think Bradley's health was of any concern to voters.

ELECTION 2000

Poll: Presidential campaign overshadows Clinton (1-26-00)

Video of New Hampshire debates (1-26-00)

Gore, Bradley spar over negative ads, health care in Manchester debate (1-26-00)

Hatch abandons presidential bid (1-26-00)

Gentility fades away as GOP candidates face one another (1-26-00)

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