February 24, 2002 6:37 pm EST
U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, a Minnesota Democrat who is one of Congress' staunchest liberals, said Sunday he has been diagnosed with a mild form of multiple sclerosis.
Wellstone, elected to the Senate in 1990 and in the last year of his second term, in a statement said he did not expect the illness to affect his schedule or political plans.
"All the work on all the issues goes on. That will not change," Wellstone said.
The senator's spokeswoman said Wellstone, 57, "absolutely will be running for re-election" this year."
Republicans have targeted Wellstone as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in November's congressional elections that will decide control of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Wellstone, a high school and champion collegiate wrestler, said he had attributed his limp to an athletic injury before the diagnosis made at the Mayo Clinic.
"I have a strong body; I have a strong heart; I have a strong soul. I just have a little bit of trouble with my right leg," he said.
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic,
potentially debilitating disease that affects the central nervous system.
An estimated 330,000 Americans have the disease, which is twice as common
in women as in men.
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