Former Obama official calls on media to give Sanders more ‘leeway’ after heart attack

A former senior adviser in the Obama administration called on the media to give Sen. Bernie Sanders some “leeway” amid criticism that the independent Vermont lawmaker’s presidential campaign wasn’t transparent about his heart attack last week.

“I’m rarely a Sen. Sanders defender, but I think he can be given some leeway here,” Stephen Cobb, who also served as a Virginia deputy attorney general, told Hill.TV. “And, yes, they’re trying to figure out what the campaign looks like going forward.”

“It’s not 100 percent surprising that the first statement was a little different than how things are actually playing out,” he added.

Several news outlets, including Politico, accused the Sanders campaign of trying to hide his heart attack.

Nina Turner, co-chairwoman of Sanders’s presidential campaign, dismissed this criticism in an interview with Hill.TV, calling such remarks “asinine.”

Sanders himself called these claims “nonsense” and defended his campaign’s handling of his hospitalization, telling NBC News on Wednesday that it had “acted appropriately.”

During that same interview, he also appeared to backtrack on previous comments about scaling back his campaign, vowing to continue a “very vigorous campaign.”

“I misspoke the other day. I said a word I should not have said and media drives me a little nuts to make a big deal about it,” Sanders said. “We’re going to get back into the groove of a very vigorous campaign.”

Sanders’s hospitalization has put renewed focus on age and health in the 2020 Democratic primary. The Vermont senator, 78, has polled consistently among the top three contenders in the race — all of whom are in their 70s.

—Tess Bonn