Sen. Bernie Sanders revealed on Thursday that he never considered ending his bid for the presidency even after he experienced a heart attack.
“Was there any point when you said, ‘You know what? I think the best course of action may be to drop out?'” CNN’s Sanjay Gupta asked the Vermont senator during a sit-down interview.
“No,” Sanders replied. “Because, you know, I don’t know how — again, you know, when you hear the word ‘heart attack,’ you’re thinking of somebody lying on the ground in terrible pain. Wasn’t the case. The day I woke up after the procedure, no pain. Zero pain. No pain right now. I feel really good.”
“My feeling was once I assessed the situation and learned what happened, that given my whole life struggle,” he continued. “I don’t mean to be, you know, overly dramatic here, but I’ve spent my entire life trying to fight for justice not only against homophobia but for workers’ rights, to create an environment that is not destroying our water and our air, to deal with climate change. All of those issues.”
Sanders’ remarks come less than two weeks after the Democratic presidential candidate had a heart attack while at a campaign stop in Las Vegas, Nevada. The incident has raised questions regarding the 78-year-old’s fitness for the office of the presidency. After he was admitted to the hospital following his heart attack, he subsequently canceled all of his upcoming campaign events.
“We’ve had significant success in kind of transforming the dialogue in America and many of the issues that I talked about four years ago are now, you know, that were considered radical then are kind of mainstream today,” Sanders said. “Many of my Democratic opponents today are saying today what I said four years ago. So we’ve struggled really hard to get to where we are right now, bring millions of people together in the fight for justice. And I’m not a quitter.”
Sanders’ campaign faced widespread criticism for initially describing the incident as a stent procedure after a fleeting episode of chest pain. It subsequently waited an additional three days to reveal the more serious diagnosis. Sanders, however, brushed off the lack of transparency.
“The people do have a right to know about the health of a senator and somebody that’s running for president of the United States — full disclosure,” he told Gupta. “We will make, at the appropriate time, all of our medical records public. For you, for anybody else that wants to see them. The first concern the people had is to understand what is going on before we’re going to reveal information dribble by dribble.”
Gupta further pressed the presidential hopeful on what symptoms he was experiencing and for how long had they been persisting.
“I was more tired than I usually have been, had more trouble sleeping than ordinarily. Occasionally I’d be up there at the podium and feel a little bit unsteady,” Sanders said. “You know, one time I was literally holding the mic up to my arm and my arm hurt. I should have paid more attention to those symptoms. I hope that people learn from my mistake.”
“I think probably — it’s hard to say [for how long]. You know, because as I said, when you’re running around the country and you’re working hard, you’re tired. What else is new? You’re going to be tired,” he continued. “But I would say several weeks anyhow. And I should have paid more attention.”
Sanders and his wife flew back to their home in Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday, one day after he was released from the hospital. He noted that he will be participating in the upcoming Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) next primary debate.