Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden committed to publicly releasing his medical records before the Iowa caucuses after questions of whether the 76-year-old former vice president is fit for the rigors of the presidency and to take on President Donald Trump, aged 73, in a grueling 2020 campaign.
In Houston on Friday, a day after the third presidential debate, the Democratic frontrunner was asked by a reporter if he will be disclosing his medical records to address worries about his age.
“Yes,” Biden said, then with a quip, “What health concerns man? You want to wrestle?”
Asked about the timing, Biden said he’ll release his medical records “when I get the next physical” exam and “before there’s the first vote.”
A Biden spokesman confirmed to CNN that meant before the Iowa caucuses in February 2020.
Biden had previously committed to releasing his medical records before the general election.
“I mean there’s no reason for me not to release my medical records,” Biden told reporters Friday.
Although the statesman would be the oldest US president to be sworn in for his first term, Biden is not the oldest candidate in the race for the Democratic ticket – nor is he the only one in his 70s.
At 78, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is older than Biden. While Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is 70. Together with Biden, the three septuagenarians have been dominating the field of their younger Democratic rivals.
Warren also plans to release her medical records before the Iowa caucuses, Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for the Warren campaign, confirmed to CNN. And a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign confirmed that the Vermont senator will release his medical records before the first votes are cast. NBC first reported Sanders’ pledge.
Biden’s propensity for gaffes and slip-ups, which is consistent with his previous campaigns, have been linked to his age by Democratic challengers and other critics.
Biden has said that it’s “totally appropriate” for people to consider his age when evaluating him as candidate, though he has repeatedly assured that he’s in good health and fine shape for the job.
If he were to win the White House, Biden would be 78 years old when he’s sworn into office in 2021 – which would make him the oldest president at the beginning of his first term in American history. Trump was the oldest president at the beginning of his first term in 2017.
During the third presidential debate on Thursday, Julián Castro, 44, made what was seen as an attack against Biden’s age by questioning Biden’s memory. Castro later denied it was such an attack.
After the debate, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said Castro had “really legitimate concerns about can he be someone in a long grueling campaign” and said that Castro “has every right to call it out.”
“There’s a lot of people concerned about Joe Biden’s ability to carry the ball across the end line without fumbling,” Booker told CNN’s Anderson Cooper late Thursday night.
Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, another Democrat running for president but who was not on the debate stage Thursday, recently said Biden “is declining” and thought he didn’t have the stamina, Bloomberg reported.
CNN’s Annie Gray, Arlette Saenz and MJ Lee contributed to this report.