Bill Bradley, who was knocked off the campaign trail on Friday by a four-year-old heart condition he had not disclosed, does not plan to release any further information about his medical history, his aides said yesterday.
"He's the picture of health--that's the big story," said Eric Hauser, Bradley's press secretary. "All his levels and gauges are fine, and he exercises regularly."
Aides to Bradley's rival for the Democratic nomination, Vice President Gore, said yesterday that in the next several days they plan to release extensive information about his health history, along with the results of a fitness test and "system-specific" medical information.
On Friday, Bradley suspended his campaign after he forgot to take pills that he needs twice daily for his heart. As a result, he suffered his seventh bout of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, in four years.
He had to skip a rally, an environmental speech and two fund-raisers in the San Francisco and Seattle areas. The next day, he held a news conference and declared he was "feeling great," and told the pack of reporters he was "pleased you're interested."
His campaign released a two-page letter from his doctor which says Bradley has no health problems aside from the heart ailment, but gives no health history before 1996.
About 2 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, which if untreated can cause a stroke. Earlier this year, former president George Bush, who has the condition, made a public service announcement for the National Stroke Association warning that an irregular heartbeat should be checked.
Last week, Republican candidate John McCain made public 1,500 pages of medical records going back to 1954. On Sept. 27, another Republican, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, sent out a three-page doctor's statement summarizing his medical history and condition, including his body fat (19.11 percent) and the notation that he had "totally abstained from alcohol for the past 13 years."
Bradley's failure to disclose his heart condition could cause voters more concern than the ailment itself, political analysts said.
"He's marketing himself as the straight shooter, so the fact that this came out this way is more damaging to his campaign than it would be to the others," said Forrest Maltzman, a George Washington University political scientist.
The Washington Post had requested Bradley's medical records last month, but was told they would be released only if he won the Democratic nomination.
His aides said they had changed their minds and were going to release the results of a physical this week, after McCain's statement prompted several inquiries from reporters. Instead, the results were released Friday as Bradley was being taken to a hospital for possible treatment, which turned out to be unnecessary.
Bradley, a former professional basketball player, said he had some "old Knick injuries" that sometimes produced a sore shoulder or back or knee. He said the heart condition was discovered during a routine examination by a Senate physician in 1996.
The New York Daily News reported that in an interview this month, Bradley refused to say whether he had ever undergone psychotherapy. "I consider that way too personal," Bradley said. "I'm drawing the line some places." The paper noted that the question "did not arise from anything seen or heard about Bradley."
Bradley's reticence extends to many other matters. On CBS's "60 Minutes" in October, he refused to discuss his religion beyond saying he believes in God. And last spring when a group of reporters in New Hampshire asked him to name his favorite book, he replied, "I'd rather not go down that road."