The presumed Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, got a clean bill of health from his doctors Friday. Meanwhile, the frontrunner for the Democratic Party nomination, Senator Barack Obama, vowed to pursue direct diplomacy with Cuba in a speech to a prominent Cuban-American group in Florida. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has the latest on the presidential race from Washington.
Medical records released to the press Friday show Senator McCain is in generally good health and has not suffered a recurrence of the deadly skin cancer melanoma. McCain had a series of melanomas removed between 1993 and 2002. The medical records also note that McCain continues to suffer shoulder and knee pain from injuries suffered as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.
McCain's primary doctor, Doctor John Eckstein, briefed reporters about the candidate's health in a conference call from Arizona. "Senator McCain enjoys excellent health and displays extraordinary energy. And while it is impossible to predict a person's future health, I and my colleagues can find no medical reason or problems that would preclude Senator McCain from fulfilling all the duties and obligations of the president of the United States," he said.
The McCain campaign hopes the positive report on his health will ease concerns about his age. McCain will turn 72 in August and if he wins in November, he would be the oldest candidate first elected to the presidency in U.S. history. Ronald Reagan was 73 when he won a second presidential term in 1984.
In the race for the Democratic nomination, Senator Barack Obama focused on foreign policy Friday.
Senator Obama promised a shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba in a speech before the Cuban American National Foundation in Miami.
"After eight years of the disastrous policies of George Bush, it is time, I believe, to pursue direct diplomacy with friend and foe alike without preconditions. Now, there must be careful preparation. We will set a clear agenda. As president, I would be willing to lead that diplomacy at a time and place of my choosing," he said.
Obama's promise to pursue direct talks with Cuba and other U.S. adversaries such as Iran has drawn criticism from Senator McCain, who has called the proposal reckless.
Obama got more good news on the political front Friday in his continuing battle with rival Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Obama won the support of two delegates who had been supporting former Senator John Edwards. Edwards dropped out of the Democratic race earlier this year and recently endorsed Obama.
Two congressmen from California also announced their support for Obama, including one who had been supporting Senator Clinton.
With Obama holding a solid lead in the delegate count, Clinton's only hope is to convince a large number of the remaining uncommitted superdelegates to support her.
Superdelegates are party officeholders and activists who can support either candidate at the national nominating convention.
Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson says superdelegates should take into account Clinton's primary victories in several large states that will be key battleground areas in the November election campaign. "You see another example of why we believe Senator Clinton would be our strongest nominee against Senator McCain. She has won in the primaries in the key swing states of Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania," he said.
Three more Democratic contests remain. Puerto Rico holds a primary June 1, and South Dakota and Montana bring the primary season to an end with elections on June 3.