If John McCain wins in November, he would be the oldest first elected president in U.S. history. This fact has not been entirely lost on voters.
According to a February 2008 poll by the Pew Research Center, 26 percent of registered voters think McCain is too old to be president. This number rises to 32 percent when voters are told that the Arizona senator is currently 71 years old.
In an effort to allay these concerns, the McCain campaign is making it possible for five television networks, three news wires, the Arizona Republic and the Washington Post (as print pool) to review a portion of the presumptive Republican nominee's medical records on Friday.
The medical information being released covers 2000 to the present and will include information about the melanoma which McCain's doctors diagnosed in August 2000, per ABC's Susan Wagner, Bret Hovell, and Justin Anderson.
The medical information is set to be rolled out near Phoenix, Ariz., in three phases on Friday morning beginning at 10:30 am ET:
- Physical inspection of 400 pages of medical records
Written medical summary provided by campaign to all media
Conference call with Mayo Clinic physicians
The conference call, which will be open to any news outlet, takes place at 2:00 pm ET. The McCain campaign is also planning to post a summary on its website.
Joining McCain spokesperson Jill Hazelbaker on Friday's call will be:
-Victor F. Trastek, M.D., CEO, Mayo Clinic Arizona;
-Dr. John D. Eckstein, M.D., Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic;
-Suzanne M. Connolly, M.D., Dermatology, Mayo Clinic; and
-Michael L. Hinni, M.D., Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, Mayo Clinic
For those news organizations examining the records in person, the McCain campaign has established certain ground rules:
-Each news outlet will be allowed the same two people in the room for three hours.
-There will be no cell phone or internet use while reviewing the records.
-No cameras will be permitted into the room.
-No photocopying of the records.
-No document can be taken outside of the room.
Dr. Tim Johnson, ABC News' medical editor, weighed in on McCain's health on the Thursday edition of "World News with Charles Gibson."
"The actuarial tables say if you make to 71 in overall good health your life expectancy is about 16 years," said Johnson. "That would be to about to age 87. I think that's surprising to many people."
"Much more difficult to predict," he added, is "any change in mental acuity. At age 71 there's about a 30 percent chance of developing serious memory loss or even dementia. But experts point out that with aging -- maybe some skills such as judgment get better."
"So, Charlie," he concluded, "the old cliché is certainly true in this case. Time will tell"
Here's the one-page medical summary that McCain's campaign released in March 2008:
John McCain has regular medical checkups at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. His doctors consider him in very good health.