June 15th, 2008
09:45 AM ET
12 years ago

Analysis: Age an issue in the 2008 campaign?

Sen. John McCain, 71, has said his age is not a factor in the presidential race.

Sen. John McCain, 71, has said his age is not a factor in the presidential race.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Is Sen. John McCain too old to be president?

Listen to some Democrats, and you'll think the 71-year-old Arizona senator is a man lost in a perpetual fog. He is "confused" and has "lost his bearings" or is "out of touch."

Listen to the McCain campaign, and you'll be convinced that Democrats are using those terms to exploit concerns that the presumptive Republican nominee is too old to effectively serve as president.

For his part, McCain tends to answer questions about his age with quips such as, "I'm older than dirt and have more scars than Frankenstein, but I've learned a few things along the way."

The first salvo of the general election's age war may have been launched in May, when Sen. Barack Obama argued in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer that McCain had "lost his bearings" while pursuing the Republican nomination.

Full story


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (220 Responses)
  1. McCain=the draft

    Considering McCain makes gaffe after gaffe, and has Lieberman or Cindy nearby whenever possible to catch him, I'd say not only is he too old, he's also too angry and tempermental. His mental status is not suitable for a commander-in-chief.

    June 15, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  2. OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT

    Mccain Looks And Sounds Like He Would Be A Terrible President! His Policies And Actions Prove It! I Do Give Him Credit For His Experience However! He Is A Great Flip Flopper, A Skilled Liar, A Seasoned Panderer, A War Monger, And The List Goes On And On! It Takes A Lot Of Experience To Reach Such Extraordinary Levels In These Areas! Many Decades Of Perfecting These Areas Is Going To Make His Age A Real Factor In November!

    June 15, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  3. sophia nyc

    I have to wonder why Clinton glorified him during the primary season. Maybe if she hadn't she would have won.

    June 15, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  4. ostriches burying our heads in the sand

    I don't think he is too old...but his ideas are too outdated.....we need someone who has a good sense of the new global era....And McBush certainly ain't that guy.....

    June 15, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. scot

    AGe I guess can Be discimanated against. as well as gender can be a issue of topic. But if you every say what is the Black agenda? watch out........I love how Freedom can only come from the young. Education can be a discrimanation....where you live can be considered racist, religion can be racist. Latinos, Whites, Korains, Asians, Germans, Indians.Ect... all are Racist.....
    All but the Blacks and College educated. can be discrimanated against what dont the people understand about this election. Now Iam going to go to BOs web site and see the only truth there is because thats what he said so it must be right

    June 15, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  6. The Bush Twins : George and John

    McCains age does concern me. I'm not saying senior citizens aren't viable, it's just that he's running for the highest office in the land. And when it comes down to it, I think alot of republicans that want to vote for their party will really be looking at whom McCain chooses as vp, because in the back of their minds they know that the vp may very well end up running the country. Another thing is, he's past retirement age so why is he even allowed to run for president ?. If he were trying to get a job in any other venue he would be told he's too old. And yes, it does seem he has lost his bearings at times.

    June 15, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  7. Linda31

    Yes he is old, but the comments he made can be made at any age and that is why he was called confused and out of touch. They could have said senile.....

    Does he think those comments will go unanswered?

    June 15, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  8. The O

    Come on now do we really want Grampa Simpson. running are
    country really? McCain is to old soory but he is his veiws are outdated, the man does not even know how to use a computer, Yes he is a former naval officer, and we are proud that he severed but this is no reason to even consider to vote for him. John McCain keeps saying that Obama does not have enough experience, just take a look at all the experience that was in the bush administration? look where all that experience has gotten us.

    BARACK / SEBELIUS 08

    BARACK THE VOTE!!!!!!!!

    June 15, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  9. Mike,ct

    Women haters & races McCain and his Supporter .

    OBAMA 08 HILLARY 2016

    June 15, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. jane in CA

    with all due respect to sen. McCain, many repubs say YES.

    June 15, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. NO MCCAIN

    Of Course Age Is A Factor! Mccain Is An Old Worn Out Man With Old Worn Out Ideas! He Is Not Fit To Be President Mentally Or Physically!

    June 15, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. Michele, Oregon

    I'm from the generation with the famous quote "Never trust anyone over thirty"! When you are young 70 sounds ANCIENT but with life expectancy being what it is today, it is not all that old.

    But alas I am an Obama supporter because age is not necessarily synonymous with wisdom.

    A word of caution to the youth however, in a climate of change it is good to remember that we stand on the backs and shoulders of those who have gone before us, and the hope that we share must admit that the institutions we hold accountable had at their origins much good.

    Back to point, if the republicans think that the dems are exploiting the age issue, it is not that McCain is too old, he just does not have what it takes to "effectively serve as President" in these times. Age is only a side note.

    June 15, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT

    Mccain Is Not Fit To Be President And This Article Proves It!

    June 15, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  14. Gerry

    The answer to the question is YES, McCain's too old.

    June 15, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  15. changed mind

    Nelson Mandela was 75 years of age when he became president of South Africa. Age has nothing to do with it . Should we say Mr. Obama is to young to run. Obama has stated 57 states , the great lakes are in Oregan..I could go on but you get the point.

    June 15, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  16. MK

    If McCain could put himself in a time machine and suddenly became 40 years old, his mutterings and misspeak would probably not improve much at all.

    June 15, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  17. Sandy - PA

    Yes, I think his age is definitely an issue. He is more at risk, he is more likely to become confused, he is more likely to need medical attention – and let's just say that it makes his VP choice that much more important.

    McSame has bigger problems though. He is too closely tied to Bush and the failed ideas and policies of the Bush Administration. McSame has agreed with and supported Bush on every issue – from tax cuts for the wealthy to selling our port to Dubai. And this is all going to come back to bite him.

    June 15, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. Were NOT your friends!

    Of course it's an issue, my 90 year old grandfather even says that he's too old for the office, and IM sure that he's not the only one with that sentiment.

    June 15, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  19. OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT

    GOOD MORNING
    TO ALL MEN == HAPPY FATHERS DAY

    no offence meant mr mcsain, but we all get to old for a lot of things and yes you are to old to be president (unless it is for senior citizens)
    there comes a time when we have a lot of trail to follow and some time they make us weak. being commander and cheif has to be full time, top notch sharpness of the mind. and the wear and tare of this campaign will get you down. this is not like the last few months of the free ride you had. this will be tough because you have a young vigorus componet to be right there to see all your mistakes and you will tire to the point your age will be an issue. i am 65 and i already am there.
    god bless you= but this is not your time to run our country

    cnn PLEASE POST THIS

    June 15, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  20. Joe

    It is not so much an issue of age as it is vision. Who can lead this country in a changing world? Who can see how the challenges of today are different from the past, and who is willing to try a new approach, when necessary, to address changing needs? Senator McCain is a true American hero, there is no doubt about that. But the world is different now, and we need a President who understands that. It is no longer the world that John McCain grew up in with basically two super powers (the U.S. and Soviet Union). Today, the actions of countries that many Americans can't even find on a map can truly affect our everyday lives here in the U.S. If you haven't read it, Thomas Freidman's book "The Earth is Flat" describes this change in terms of the economy. We need a President who truly understands that and is prepared to lead knowing those are the challenges. When I've heard Senator McCain talk, his idea is to bring back the economic team from the Reagan Administration. I'm sorry, but it is no longer the 1980's and "trickle down economics" didn't work so well then either. Barack Obama presents a new opportunity for leadership for America. He's smart, and comes from a generation that understands the new world in which America faces many challenges that didn't exist even ten years ago.

    So, not because of age but more because of vision, I'm enthusiastically supporting Barack Obama.

    June 15, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  21. Teri

    Yeah – the Dems may want to taper the "too old" rhetoric. It makes them appear age-ist and that would be a problem since it is the older citizens who are more likely to vote. Plus the fact that Barack is bi-racial would most likely be a larger issue for them than those voters younger than 30-something. So what, you hit 70 and your opinions are irrelevant? There is a reason they are called the "Greatest Generation" – based on what I see out of many young people today – too many would never understand how to be selfless for your country...

    June 15, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  22. McCain08

    You are old John. My parents are old and so are my grand parents. We who are not hope to be blessed to make it to your age. Obama is filling sand bags and helping the people and people like you may say that it is a photo opportunity but so was your phony FOX town hall meeting. Every bag that he filled helped but what you did this week did not help anybody.
    McSame is TOAST

    June 15, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  23. Cathy in MD

    Being “old” has nothing to do with McCain being out of touch, confused or losing his bearings. My 85-year-old mother is none of the above. That’s why she’s voting for Obama.

    June 15, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  24. Donna

    That "lost his bearings" comment had nothing to do with age. It had to do with McCain's deviation from his conservative background.

    June 15, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  25. A CANUCK

    I'm not wary of his age.....but I am afraid of his old ideas.

    June 15, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
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