An Age-Old Issue — Old Age — Hits the Political World
Author: Greg Valliere
October 3, 2019
OLD AGE, THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: How ironic that high-energy Bernie Sanders, who raised $25 million in the third quarter, will now become the poster boy for a delicate issue — the age and health of the country’s top politicians.
THE INSERTION OF A STENT to widen a blocked artery isn’t a huge deal, but for a few hours yesterday news of Sanders’ procedure crowded out the rapidly intensifying impeachment probe. To be blunt, much of the buzzing focused on what would happen if Sanders dropped out (his polls have plunged in recent weeks, amid reports of disarray in his campaign).
ELIZABETH WARREN, ON A ROLL, would be the obvious beneficiary if Sanders dropped out after the March 3 Super Tuesday primaries. She and Sanders are friends and ideological soul-mates, and it’s logical to assume that he eventually may endorse her and release his delegates to her. This is one of many reasons why Warren is the early favorite to win the nomination.
IN THE MEANTIME, there will be a renewed focus on candidates’ age and health; all of them will be pressured to release their medical records.
RONALD REAGAN WAS CONSIDERED ELDERLY when he won the presidency, but he was only 69 when he was inaugurated, younger than many of today’s candidates. Yet Reagan appeared to show signs of early dementia late in his second term, and age has to be an issue for candidates as they approach 80.
SO THERE WILL BE A FOCUS on the portly Donald Trump, 73, who loves fried food and hates to exercise. Joe Biden, who will turn 77 later this fall, doesn’t appear to be quite as quick as he was a decade ago. But Warren, 70, and Sanders, 78, keep grueling campaign schedules.
AGE IS A DELICATE ISSUE IN CONGRESS: Nancy Pelosi is 79 and her two House lieutenants are Steny Hoyer, 80, and James Clyburn, 79. The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is 77. A key figure in an impeachment trial could be Sen. Charles Grassley, who is 86.
YOUNG VOTERS WANT SOMEONE they can relate to, which is why Pete Buttigieg, 37, and Andrew Yang, 44, have exceeded expectations. Politics isn’t always fair — Sanders and Biden will raise eyebrows if they have a bad cold this winter. Fairly or not, their age is an issue, and we have to wonder: could Trump’s health also become an issue in the 2020 campaign?
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