- Bernie Sanders blasted Nikki Haley’s idea of an age-based mental competency test for politicians.
- “There are a lot of 40-year-olds out there who ain’t particularly competent,” Sanders told CBS News.
- Insider’s Bryan Metzger last week found scant support for such a test while on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday blasted 2024 Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley over her suggestion that politicians aged 75 and older should be subject to “mandatory mental competency tests,” calling her idea “absurd.”
During an appearance on the CBS News program “Face the Nation,” the Vermont Independent — who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020 — dismissed the proposal offered by the former South Carolina governor.
“I think that’s absurd. We are fighting racism, we’re fighting sexism, we’re fighting homophobia. I think we should also be fighting ageism,” the senator told host Margaret Brennan.
“There are a lot of 40-year-olds out there who ain’t particularly competent,” the 81-year-old Sanders continued to say. “Older people, you know, you look at the individual. I don’t think you make a blanket statement.”
Sanders then argued that the focus should be on values and the policies espoused by candidates in the public forum.
“Look at what they believe in. What are they fighting for? What does Donald Trump stand for? Do you believe in that? Well, I certainly don’t,” the senator said.
“What does Joe Biden stand for? What is he doing? Look at him in that way, not on age,” he added.
Haley, 51, launched her presidential campaign in Charleston, S.C., on Wednesday, where she raised the issue during her announcement speech. She’s the second major Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential race, joining former President Trump, who’ll turn 77 years old in June.
President Joe Biden, whom Haley is looking to unseat from the White House, is 80 years old and would be 82 years old at the start of his second term if he wins reelection next year.
“In the America I see, the permanent politician will finally retire,” she said last week. “We’ll have term limits for Congress, and mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old.”
Last year, Insider examined the phenomenon of an American gerontocracy in our “Red, White, and Gray” series, which included an article about younger candidates who sought to run for office but ran into institutional barriers during their campaigns.
Insider’s Bryan Metzger while on Capitol Hill last week asked lawmakers about their views on Haley’s idea, with many members dismissing the need to take such a test.
Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii bluntly rejected the proposal.
“I think she should test her own mental competency,” Hirono said of the presidential aspirant. “Come on, how many times has she said she’s fighting Trump, and then the next thing you know, she’s kissing his ring?”
And Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, 89, said that voters could make up their own minds on candidates without such a requirement.
“I think you need to look at my last election,” he said, pointing to his 2022 reelection victory. “The people know that I’m in a position to do the work.”