Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Doctors say Bunning in good health

By Patrick Crowley
Enquirer staff writer

LEXINGTON - Hoping to put to rest rumors about his health U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning released letters from two doctors Monday that proclaim the Southgate Republican has no major medical problems.

Bunning's campaign released the letters immediately after the first-term senator debated, via satellite, Democrat Dr. Daniel Mongiardo. Mongiardo, a state senator from Hazard, was at WKYT studios here while Bunning participated from Washington through a satellite video hookup.

Democratic Party leaders have questioned whether Bunning is in poor health and have challenged him to release his medical records.

Bunning, 72, stopped short of releasing all of his medical records, saying that would be an invasion of privacy. But reporters covering the debate were given letters from two doctors who said they have recently examined Bunning.

During the debate, Bunning apologized for saying earlier this year that Mongiardo, an Italian-American, looks like one of Saddam Hussein's sons.

"Earlier this year, I made an inappropriate comment and for that I personally apologize to you," Bunning said. "I would hope you would do the same to my wife and my family for all the horrible rumors that you and your staff have been circulating about my health. It's unbelievable."

Mongiardo said he had not spread any rumors about Bunning's health.

"I hope that you are healthy," Mongiardo said.

"You have conduct that has been unbecoming of a United States senator, you have conduct that has been unbecoming of a Kentucky gentleman."

One of the letters released by Bunning was from Dr. John F. Eisold, who is identified in the letter as Congress' attending physician.

He proclaimed that Bunning is in "excellent health" with normal blood pressure of 134/82 and cholesterol of level of 161.

"You should continue your healthy diet and regular exercise routine," Eisold wrote in a letter dated Oct. 6. "You are not limited in any way."

Dr. Donald Saelinger of Southgate wrote on Sept. 24 that Bunning's "current health status is excellent." Saelinger said he has treated Bunning for 15 years.

E-mail pcrowley@enquirer.com

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