Reality Check: Can You Be Too Old To Be President?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s a wide-open field of new, young presidential candidates for 2020. But the current frontrunners are the oldest candidates in the race.

The United States Constitution requires presidents to be at least 35 years old, but there is no top age limit.

“I’m so young, I can’t believe it. I’m the youngest person. I am a young, vibrant man,” said President Donald Trump.

The three oldest candidates in the race are living in their eighth decade. President Trump (72), Joe Biden (76) and Bernie Sanders (77). It is sparking old-age jokes on late night TV.

“But I’ve already gotten support from Metamucil, white untouched sneakers, and those tennis balls you put on the bottom of walkers,” said “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon as Bernie Sanders.

It’s a common political question: How old is too old? A recent Wall Street Journal poll found voters rank older candidates very low on the list of people they’re comfortable voting for.

In top to bottom order, voters are most comfortable with a candidate who is:

A white man (86%)
A woman (84%)
Gay or lesbian (68%)
A business executive (56%)
A Muslim (49%)
Someone over 75 years old (37%)

Age and mental fitness was a campaign issue in 1984, when 73-year-old Ronald Reagan ran for a second term against his 56-year-old Democratic challenger, 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,” Reagan said.

In fact, it is against the law to discriminate against hiring or firing workers because of age. But most Americans think age 70 is too old to work, and 75 is too old to be president. But it’s false that septuagenarian cognitive abilities are diminished.

Trump is the oldest president to assume office at the age of 70. Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest, at age 42.