Is Hillary Clinton too old to be president?
While you will never hear any Republican politician directly bring up Hillary Clinton’s age for fear of being accused of sexism, that hasn’t stopped some from indirectly attacking her “advanced years.” Rand Paul, Republican presidential nominee, was quoted as saying, “It’s a very taxing undertaking to go through. It’s a rigorous physical ordeal, I think, to be able to campaign for the presidency.” Sen. Mitch McConnell compared her to a cast member from “The Golden Girls.”
You can see why Republican presidential nominees have tread lightly on the subject of Hillary’s age (she is currently 67 and would turn 69 in 2016.) Ronald Reagan was 69 when he first took office and 73 on his second inauguration. John McCain would have been 72, and Robert Dole 73, if elected president.
While the issue of age has been raised, somewhat, by the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, (he would be the oldest president at 75) no one has been discussing the age of the current Republican frontrunner for president, Donald Trump, who will turn 71 in 2016.
Aside from their concern of being seen as sexist, Republicans have a better reason not to play the “age card.” A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed little evidence that voters are concerned about having another president in their 70s. The poll revealed that Clinton’s age would not influence how 67 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of independents voted in November 2016.
Additionally, in a recent Pew survey, young people don’t even perceive Clinton as particularly old; 69% of 18-29 year olds think Clinton is either in her 50s or younger. Just 27% accurately place her age as between 60 and 69, while only 2% say she’s older than 70.
As for the candidate herself, rather than downplay her age, Clinton in recent campaign stops in Iowa and New Hampshire has embraced her role as grandmother, striking sympathetic notes with other older women in the audience about the joys, and responsibility, of raising a grandchild.
Perhaps if the topic of age should come up in a presidential debate with a young Republican opponent, such as a Rubio or Walker, she can channel Reagan’s classic quip used against a younger Walter Mondale, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”