In this week’s edition of the Observador Newsletter – Special American Elections, journalist João de Almeida Dias recalls stories and adventures of a topic that was made controversial once again after Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19: the candidates health.

It was the year 2016 and much was debated about Donald Trump’s medical report. The then-Republican candidate accused Hillary Clinton of being ill and not in good health to be President of the United States, but the information he gave about his own health condition was far from detailed: just a statement from his doctor stating he was in great shape.

While it is true that American voters have become accustomed to having a set of information about those who want to lead them, it is also that Donald Trump is far from the only one not to be completely transparent about his health.

An example of this is Bill Clinton, the Democrat who won the election in 1992 and again in 1996, and on none of those occasions released a detailed medical report as it was the norm until then. There were also the cases of Grover Cleveland, who had surgery to treat a cancer while on his second term in 1893 and which was only known nine years after his death, Woodrow Wilson’s heart attack, the health condition of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died in 1945, and John F. Kennedy himself.

At a time when America’s leadership is contested by two men over the age of 70 – Donald Trump is 74 and Joe Biden 77 – and the world faces a pandemic of a potentially fatal virus, will health weigh when Americans go to the polls?

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