Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg poses for a photograph as he greets people during a campaign event at The Rustic Restaurant, Thursday, February 27, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

The Latest: Bloomberg releases new data on his heart health

February 27, 2020 - 3:19 pm

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the 2020 Democratic presidential primary contest (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

Mike Bloomberg’s Democratic presidential campaign has released more information about his heart health and urged his rival Bernie Sanders to do the same.

A letter signed by Bloomberg’s doctor says he underwent cardiac stress testing and an echocardiogram in July. It shows normal function of his left ventricular, “excellent exercise capacity,” and a left ventricular ejection fraction of 60 to 65%, which is in the normal range. The letter notes that Bloomberg had a stent placed for a blocked coronary artery in 2000.

There are several ways to measure heart health, but the size and function of the left ventricle, its main pumping chamber, is one key. This report says that Bloomberg’s left ventricle is healthy. It’s not enlarged, and the ejection fraction – the amount of blood it pumps out with each heartbeat – is right in the middle of the normal range.

Bloomberg had previously disclosed he has atrial fibrillation, an irregular or rapid heartbeat.

It’s the campaign’s latest attempt to draw a contrast with Sanders, whose health has been under scrutiny since he suffered a heart attack in October. Both men are 78.

Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser says Sanders should release the same data.

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3 p.m.

Elizabeth Warren wants to create a special adviser to the president on border communities who will head a new agency to promote prosperity in the region.

The Massachusetts senator, like other Democratic presidential candidates, has already released proposals to soften the Trump administration’s tough immigration policies.

But in a new plan unveiled Wednesday, Warren pledges to focus on more deeply improving the lives of people living along the U.S.-Mexico border. She’s promising to end the Trump administration’s deployment of military forces to the border and redirect funding for the border wall to combating the new coronavirus.

Warren is also promising to crack down on vigilante groups guarding the border, create a Border Health initiative within the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy and pardon anyone convicted of providing food and water to immigrants -- even though such convictions are rare.

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2:40 p.m.

South Carolina's first new Democratic congressman in decades is inviting President Donald Trump to tour his district while he's in town, in hopes of helping him understand why there is "such united opposition" to offshore drilling in the area.

In a letter sent Thursday to the president, Rep. Joe Cunningham noted the natural beauty of the coastal area, around which the state's more than $22 billion tourism industry is focused.

Cunningham's upset victory in 2018 came after a campaign in which he focused intently on opposing Trump's plans to do seismic airgun blasts and offshore drilling off the Atlantic coast.

There has been bipartisan opposition to drilling in South Carolina, including from one of Trump's top allies in the state, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster.

Trump is planning to hold a rally in North Charleston on Friday night, just hours before Democrats in the state hold their presidential primary on Saturday.

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1:15 p.m.

Two days before the South Carolina primary, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" single-payer insurance proposal "a long, expensive slog" with little chance of passage.

Speaking Thursday at a small-town community health center in McClellanville, South Carolina, Biden countered with his "public option" government insurance plan to compete in the existing private market. "The most important thing, I can actually get it passed," Biden said.

The former vice president also emphasized that his plan could benefit Americans who missed out on Medicaid expansion after the 2010 Affordable Care Act because of their Republican governors.

Biden said his public option would “automatically enroll” about 200,000 residents who would have been eligible for an expanded Medicaid insurance program under the “Obamacare” law. But more than a dozen Republican-run states declined to expand Medicaid after the Supreme Court ruled that they couldn't be forced to do so.

Under what he called “Bidencare,” the former vice president said, “the state couldn’t do anything about it.”

South Carolina is the last of the four early nominating contests, but it’s the first of the group that has not expanded Medicaid under the 2010 law. Several states with March 3 “Super Tuesday” primaries also have not expanded Medicaid, including Alabama, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.

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12:45 p.m.

Former New York City Mike Bloomberg says he has the record and resources to flip Texas in the presidential election.

Speaking Thursday at a rally in Houston, Bloomberg argued that Democrats can win Texas if they nominate someone who can build a broad coalition that includes independent and moderate Republican voters. The last Democrat to win Texas in a presidential race was Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Bloomberg noted that former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat, lost a close race in 2018 for the U.S. Senate against Republican Ted Cruz. O'Rourke then ran for president before dropping out last year. Bloomberg said, “My friend Beto showed that we’re getting close.”

Bloomberg appeared in Texas as part of a trip through states that have their primaries next week on Super Tuesday.

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10:35 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is launching a multi-million dollar television and digital advertising campaign in 12 of the 14 states holding primary elections on Tuesday, March 3.

The announcement comes on the heels of a strategy memo released by Buttigieg’s campaign manager describing the possible but tricky path to the nomination the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor faces.

Buttigieg, meanwhile, is campaigning in South Carolina, where his appeal among African American voters who make up the majority of the electorate in Saturday’s primary will be tested.

The memo from campaign manager Mike Schmuhl said Buttigieg has a path to the nomination, in part, if he holds down front-runner Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ winning margins on March 3.

Buttigieg’s television and on-line ad buy opens today in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.

Buttigieg has faced fundraising pressure, having spent twice what he raised in January en route to top-two finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. He has been asking supporters to help him reach $13 million ahead of Super Tuesday.

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9:55 a.m.

The American Civil Liberties Union says it's dispatching dozens of trained volunteers across South Carolina to monitor voting precincts during Saturday's Democratic presidential primary.

The group said Thursday the 73 volunteers will report and address any problems with the help of legal advocates. They'll be at precincts in Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester and Lexington counties as voters go to the polls.

The ACLU says anyone who sees any issues should report them to a voter protection hotline. Polls in South Carolina are open on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

South Carolina congressman Jim Clyburn endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday.

Biden has long led in polling in South Carolina. But Biden's lead has tightened in recent months, in part because of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ momentum after success in other early state contests. And California billionaire Tom Steyer has spent millions of dollars on ads in the state.

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Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”

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