Graham Postpones Presidential Decision, Will Undergo Heart Operation

Posted January 23, 2003 at 3:27pm

Florida Sen. Bob Graham (D), who was preparing to announce a presidential bid next month, said Thursday that he will undergo heart surgery in early February, postponing any announcement about his future plans.

Graham told reporters that he had all but made up his mind to enter the Democratic presidential primary and had planned an announcement for Feb. 3, the same week he is now scheduled to have surgery to replace a faulty aortic valve. He said he would reassess whether he should run for president a month after the surgery.

“The week of February 3, I’d rather be on an airplane on the way to Des Moines,” Graham said, according to The Associated Press. However, he also said that he was fortunate doctors had discovered the problem and were able to correct it.

Graham, 66, said he had recently experienced shortness of breath and was informed he needed the surgery while undergoing medical tests to determine if he should make a presidential run. The aortic valve enables blood to flow from the heart’s left ventricle into the aorta, the main artery carrying blood throughout the body.

Graham is also up for re-election in 2004, but is barred by Florida law from running for both offices.

Rep. Mark Foley (R), one of the potential Senate candidates eyeing a run if Graham does not seek re-election, didn’t waste any time in releasing a statement Wednesday afternoon wishing the Senator well and encouraging his presidential bid.

“As I’ve been told, this is a routine procedure and I fully expect he will soon be back on his feet, whether in Miami or out stumping in Iowa and New Hampshire,” Foley said.