June 1, 1984

Presidential Candidate Disability

Author Affiliations

From the Washington Internal Medicine Group, PC, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 1984;251(21):2811. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340450027020

AS A NEW presidential campaign is about to begin, the health of the presidential candidates should not be ignored. The presence of an ongoing medical problem, intemperate habits such as abuse of alcohol or other drugs, or the development of an acute medical illness during the campaign could easily result in the victory of a candidate elected not necessarily by the will of the people but by default because of an opponent's medical illness.

It has now been more than 20 years since the historic presidential campaign of 1960, which resulted in the election of John F. Kennedy. His opponent, the vicepresident of the United States in 1960, Richard M. Nixon, was defeated in an extremely close election. Although the vice-president's political fortune was to decline immediately after this defeat, his presidential victory in 1968 crowned a remarkable political comeback to be followed by his resignation in 1973.

The purpose