Ronald Reagan was 69 years old when he took office as president of the United States in 1981 and 77 when he left. Reagan was 56 when became governor of California in 1967 and he was 64 when he left that post in 1975.
Reagan ran for president in 1976 against President Gerald Ford, who had been appointed vice president when Spiro T. Agnew resigned. Then Ford became president when Richard Nixon resigned following Watergate. Ford won the GOP nomination and then lost the election to Democrat Jimmy Carter, who then lost his bid for re-election to Reagan in 1980.
Ford was 61 when he ran for president. Carter was 52 when he was elected president.
Former World War II Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was 62 when he took office and Harry Truman was 60. George W. Bush, the No. 43 president, was 54 when he took office in 2001 and 62 when he left.
John F. Kennedy was 43 years old when he was elected president but the youngest president was Teddy Roosevelt, who was42 – about nine months younger than Kennedy.
Bill Clinton was 46 when elected president and George H.W. Bush was 64. Barack Obama was 47 when elected.
Why does this matter?
It matters because it speaks to the electability of a candidate and to his or her potential success in running the country.
They said Reagan was too old but they were very, very wrong.
In the current crop of candidates, age will definitely be a factor in determining the nominees for the Democrats and the Republicans.
Here’s a rundown.
The oldest major candidate is Democrat Bernie Sanders, who is 74 – six years older than Reagan when he ran. Sanders, who was born in 1941 just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, would be 75 if he takes office and 83 after completing two terms.
I know some folks who are in their 80s who are still as sharp as a tack but I think they would tell you that they just don’t have the energy levels they had previously.
Next up is Joe Biden who is 72. I know he hasn’t announced but a lot of Democrats –and Obama – are secretly hoping he will join the race as Hillary Clinton’s campaign falters.
Biden, who admits it would be a challenge to be president, would be 74 at his inauguration – five years older than Reagan. And Biden would be 80 years old at the end of two terms as president.
Republican RINO George Pataki is 70 but he doesn’t stand a chance of getting the nomination. That’s true of Jim Gilmore, too, who is 65.
This is where is becomes interesting.
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is 69 and would be 70 when he takes office – about the same age as Reagan. Honestly, Trump comes across as a much younger person. He has a lot of energy and seems to be in great health.
On the other hand, Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton is 67 and would be 69 at her inauguration. A former editor for the New York Times has written a book outlining her health concerns and that makes her age a troubling issue.
Her husband, Bill, was 23 years younger than she is when he became president. Could she handle the stress? I don’t think so. (By the way, I wouldn’t vote for her if she were 35 years old and in perfect health.)
Republican Ben Carson, like Trump, looks and acts younger than his age, which is 64 (65 when he takes office).
Republican John Kasich is 63. Jeb Bush is 62 (but looks older). Carly Fiorina is 61 but despite Trump’s criticism of her looks, she looks younger than 61 to me.
Republican Mike Huckabee is 60 and he is starting to show his age a bit. RINO Lindsey Graham looks OK at 60 (but I wouldn’t vote for him).
Republican Rick Santorum looks younger than his age of 57 and that is good. Chris Christie looks young at 53 but his weight situation is a health concern. Rand Paul looks healthy and young at 52.
The youngest candidates are Republicans Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio – who are all 44. They all look young and vibrant yet not so young for people to think that they couldn’t handle the responsibility of the job.
By the way, Rick Perry is 65 and his presidential hopes are over. Scott Walker is only 47 and he could be a player as president in future or perhaps a vice presidential choice in 2016.
Age is not the most important factor but health is critical. The liberal media will make an issue out of this in the campaign if it is an advantage for a liberal Democrat. But considering the age factor for Mrs. Clinton and Sanders, I don’t think age will get much coverage by the national news.