The Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch _ who this week called on potential supporters to vote for him, warning the 78-year-old incumbent may die in office _ is now challenging Hatch to release medical records.
Democrat Scott Howell sent an email to voters over the weekend suggesting to them that Hatch is “an old guy” and if re-elected, he may “retire or die” before the end of his term.
Hatch campaign manager Dave Hansen called the comments about Hatch’s potential demise “outrageous and offensive,” adding they come from a candidate with no shot at winning in November. Utah hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1970.
Howell, 58, is now taking it a step further, suggesting both he and Hatch release five years of medical records to show voters they’ll both be alive come November.
“We should not make guesses” about Hatch’s health, Howell said in an email late Wednesday. “The records will speak for themselves.”
Hansen said Hatch won’t be releasing his medical records, noting the senator is in good health and has no plans to either retire or die.
“He’s in great health, and he’s in great shape,” Hansen said Thursday. “If there were any problems, he wouldn’t be running for re-election.”
Howell’s campaign said that while there other important issues in this election, age must be considered when voters head to the polls.
“We just think it’s time to remind Utah that maybe it’s time for him to retire,” Howell campaign manager Emily Bingham Hollingshead said. “The age issue, it’s out there. It’s a good reminder. And frankly, it’s sparked a really interesting conversation across the nation about how old is too old to serve.”
According to the Senate Historical Office, the average age of senators in the current Congress is 61 1/2 years old. Hatch is one of 19 senators in their 70s. Three others _ Hawaii Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, as well as Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey_ are in their 80s.
About 13 percent of the nation is over age 65, about the same as the percentage of seniors in Utah, according to the Census Bureau.
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