Declined to provide files three times to New York Times
A little noticed remark in the press is generating heat for McCain's presidential campaign.
On Wednesday, McCain's campaign told CNN that the Arizona senator's medical file would be produced May 15. Trouble is, they previously said they'd be released April 15, and they've refused to turn the records over to the New York Times on at least three occasions.
This has led some on the left to question, "What's he hiding?" -- as is the banner headline on the politics section of liberal blog, The Huffington Post.
"Mr. McCain has yet to make his full medical records or his physicians available to reporters," the Times veteran medical correspondent Dr. Lawrence Altman penned in March. "At least three times since March 2007, campaign officials have told The New York Times that they would provide the detailed information about his current state of health, but they have not done so. The campaign now says it expects to release the information in April."
McCain's previous encounter with skin cancer
The Times has taken issue with McCain's health before.
In early March of this year, the paper ran a Sunday splash titled "On the Campaign Trail, Few Mentions of McCain's Bout With Melanoma."
"Along with his signature bright white hair, the most striking aspects of Senator John McCain's physical appearance are his puffy left cheek and the scar that runs down the back of his neck," Altman wrote. "The marks are cosmetic reminders of the melanoma surgery he underwent in August 2000. Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, sometimes tells audiences that he has 'more scars than Frankenstein.'"
The recent ducking of questions on his medical history stands in contrast to his release of detailed files in 1999,
"In 1999, during Mr. McCain's first race for president, he gave the public an extraordinary look at his medical history — 1,500 pages of medical and psychiatric records that were amassed as part of a United States Navy project to gauge the health of former prisoners of war," Altman wrote in March. "This reporter, who is a physician, interviewed the senator's doctors in 1999 with his permission."
The CNN report was featured in a blog post on their political ticker Wednesday. It was not picked up by news agencies or even the subject of a CNN report. The Carpetbagger blog, however, caught the CNN blog post and raised a storm.
McCain said he'd release files on 60 Minutes
The Times report "was the standard line in early March. McCain sat down for an interview with Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes, and was asked about his health. McCain said it's 'excellent' (three times), and said his campaign would be 'doing the medical records thing' soon," Carpetbagger's Steve Bennen wrote. "Pelley followed up, "There has been some criticism that you have not released your medical records. You're saying in this interview that you're about to do that. McCain replied, 'Oh, yeah, we'll do it in the next month or so, yeah.'"
"For a candidate who has nothing to hide, he's acting like he has something to hide," he continued later. "And given that McCain is running to be the oldest president ever elected, and he has a history of medical problems including melanoma, this is a little unsettling.
"If McCain had a history of secrecy," he added, "it'd be easier to just chalk this up to a character flaw. But his previous disclosures actually make the problem worse. He was an open book during his first campaign, and now he can't even explain the delays in releasing his records.
"As I said," he concluded. "There's probably nothing to this. But the campaign's conduct on the issue raises questions, doesn't it?"