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Mondale's doctor cites 'excellent health'

From Jonathan Karl and Bob Franken
CNN Washington Bureau

Senate candidate Walter Mondale
Senate candidate Walter Mondale

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) -- Former Vice President Walter Mondale is in "excellent health" at age 74 and would be able to serve a full Senate term if elected despite a ruptured blood vessel that cost him partial vision in one eye, his personal physician says.

"It is both my medical and personal opinion that you are in excellent health. You live a vigorous and active life, you walk two miles a day, you take good care of yourself, and you have kept your weight down," Dr. Paul Phillips said in a letter to Mondale's campaign.

Minnesota Democrats have named Mondale to replace Paul Wellstone on Tuesday's ballot after the senator's death in a plane crash last week. It is Mondale's first campaign since his failed presidential bid in 1984.

In his letter, Phillips told the candidate that his only recent health problem -- "an isolated embolic event" in February 2000 that left him with partial vision in his right eye -- has "almost no chance of recurrence on current therapy."

Phillips told CNN the incident was not a stroke, but a burst blood vessel in Mondale's right eye. The condition was treated, but not before Mondale suffered a partial loss of vision.

"It is not a neurological event. It was ophthalmological event," Phillips said.

Campaign aides said Mondale was at a grocery store when he felt discomfort in his eye and his vision became blurred. He drove himself to a hospital for treatment.

"You are certainly in good shape to perform all the duties of a United States senator, and I have no doubt you will be able to fill a six-year term," Phillips wrote.

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