Politics Sanders surrogate says heart attack won't stop him from returning to campaign trail

08:55  10 october  2019
08:55  10 october  2019 Source:   abcnews.go.com

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One of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' most vocal supporters told ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast that not even a heart attack will stop Sanders from campaigning.

Nina Turner, a surrogate and national co-chairwoman for the Sanders campaign and a former Ohio state senator, told Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks and correspondent Serena Marshall that his staff and supporters will have to step up, rally around him and do more campaigning on his behalf until he gets back to full speed.

"Somebody like him who is so accustomed to going at a breakneck pace, this is going to be a transition for him in particular," Turner said. "But we're here to help him make that transition."

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Earlier this week Sanders told reporters he may have to change some of his campaign tactics while he rests and heals from two stents placed in his chest during surgery.

(MORE: Bernie Sanders hospitalized for blocked artery, campaign events canceled)

Turner said she's been spending a lot of time in South Carolina, but she and others will fill in on the trail until Sanders is back to his normal schedule.

"I will be going into other states even more, so we're just going to rally around the senator, like a campaign family should do when your principal needs you, even more so," Turner said. "We will work even harder than we have been working. ... We'll do it in a way that really complements the senator in a deeper way."

Turner rejected criticism that the campaign hadn't been transparent enough when Sanders and his family found out he'd suffered from a heart attack.

"The public was informed and in a timely fashion, so I'm pushing back on that," Turner said.

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She went on to explain that the three-day delay in announcing the hospitalization was due to a heart attack was a natural reaction that any normal family undergoing a crisis would have.

(MORE: Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to attend October debate after hospitalization)

"I want people to wrap their minds around you have a medical emergency, and it doesn't matter that he's a public figure. It doesn't matter if he's running for president. First and foremost, he is a human being," she said. "He is a man of flesh and blood, a person who had a medical emergency. Your first thought … is not to say, 'Wait, let me stop, you know, my medical emergency, let me pause for a commercial break, so that I can notify the media.'"

One of Sanders' closest rivals, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, announced this week that she would not hold high-dollar fundraisers in the general election if nominated, a pledge Sanders made early in his campaign, Turner said.

The candidates are "all running on the gospel according to Bernard Sanders is in some form or fashion," she said.

She added she feels it shows "the power of his movement to challenge Democratic presidential candidates [and] not to bow down at the trough of knockoff millionaires and billionaires, and to take their campaigns to the people and raise money that way."

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She also expressed concern about the political turmoil that's been stirred between incumbent President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden over the president's outreach to Ukraine to look into matters that could impact his political rival, as the back and forth could hurt all Democrats.

(MORE: White House official told whistleblower Trump Ukraine call was 'frightening')

"President Trump's got some nerve, but he got lots of nerve. We already know that, you know as corrupt as he is. I mean he didn't drain the swamp, he added to it. He has been profiting from that office, and so has the members of his family," she said. "He is though the master for pulling other people down with him. So it's certainly something that has to be of concern to all Democrats and the Biden campaign is definitely going to have to deal with that."

Powerhouse Politics podcast is a weekly program that posts every Wednesday, and includes headliner interviews and in-depth looks at the people and events shaping U.S. politics. Powerhouse Politics podcast is hosted by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.

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