Bernie Sanders has heart procedure, suspends campaign

By John Whitesides

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders was hospitalized on Tuesday with chest pains and a blockage in one artery and will suspend his campaign for the White House until further notice, an adviser said.

Sanders, 78, was in Las Vegas, Nevada, for 2020 presidential campaign events when he experienced discomfort and was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

“Following medical evaluation and testing he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted,” Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement.

“Sen. Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days. We are canceling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates,” Weaver said.

Sanders, the oldest candidate among the 19 contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, was scheduled to hold a town hall in Las Vegas and appear at a gun safety forum on Wednesday.

Aides did not offer any guidance on how long Sanders might be off the campaign trail. The first nominating contest is not until Feb. 3 in Iowa, but Sanders is one of 12 candidates scheduled to participate in the fourth Democratic debate in Ohio on Oct. 15.

The U.S. senator from Vermont has been among the top contenders in the crowded field seeking the 2020 nomination to challenge Republican President Donald Trump.

A Democratic socialist, Sanders galvanized progressives during a 2016 run for president when he lost the nomination to Hillary Clinton but popularized left-wing ideas such as Medicare for All, his proposal for a government-run healthcare plan based on the system for Americans over the age of 65.

Sanders had been running in second place in the Democratic race behind front-runner Joe Biden until the last month, when a surge by fellow progressive and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren moved her ahead of Sanders in many polls.

The campaign halt comes the day after Sanders reported a big $25.3 million fundraising haul for the third quarter, putting him in the early lead in the closely watched campaign money race.

“Thinking of @BernieSanders today and wishing him a speedy recovery. If there’s one thing I know about him, he’s a fighter and I look forward to seeing him on the campaign trail soon,” Democratic 2020 rival Kamala Harris, a U.S. senator from California, said on Twitter.

(Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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