In an interview with CNN, First Lady Jill Biden rejected Republican presidential candidate, former South Carolina Governor, and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley’s idea that politicians over the age of 75 undergo tests for mental capacity.
The First Lady explained to CNN that the idea is “ridiculous” and that if President Joe Biden were to be reelected, he would not take a competency test since “We would never even discuss something like that.” Moreover, Jill Biden defended President Biden’s stamina and capacity for work. For example, she questioned CNN, “How many 30-year-olds could travel to Poland, get on the train, go nine more hours, go to Ukraine, meet with President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy? So, look at the man. Look at what he’s doing. Look at what he continues to do each and every day.”
Nonetheless, the problem of the president’s age is an albatross across the administration. A Fox News poll found that 77% of Americans favor requiring such tests. The support is also across generations: “83% of millennials, 84% of Gen X, and 66% of Baby Boomers support the idea.” In addition, other polls show that Democrats aren’t too enthused with the prospect of another Biden run.
According to FiveThirtyEight, “Only 31 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said they want the party to renominate Biden, while 58 percent said they’d prefer someone else.” This means that a significant quantity of Democrats are willing to ditch President Biden for another nominee. Moreover, Politico has reported that senior Democrats privately fret that President Biden is too old, though they fear what will happen to Democrats if Biden doesn’t run.
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Additionally, Haley’s proposal would not only affect Biden, but her age limit would also mean that former President Donald Trump, whose age is 76, would have to take a mental competency test. Perhaps that is why there seems to be much opposition to Haley’s proposal, not only among Democrats but also among Republicans. For example, former Vice President Mike Pence spoke against mental competency tests, saying, “I think the American people can sort that out. I really do.” Some commentators, such as Andrew McCarthy, have described Haley’s proposal as “a poorly conceived, flatly unconstitutional solution to a real problem.”
As has been noted by Michael Brendan Dougherty, there does seem to be a cry amongst the American people for a generational change in who leads the nation. Yet, whether the proposal is constitutional or would be realistically achievable, it seems so far to have been the most notable proposal of Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign. Additionally, it has served to highlight the issue of age amongst our political class, which, according to polling and the fact that we are having this debate, is very much on the minds of the American people.
Jill Biden, Ed.D., on concerns over Biden's age: "Look at the man, look what he's doing" pic.twitter.com/kYuiDQwI0J
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 7, 2023
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