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. susie

    Obama is too inexperience. I would rather have someone who has life scars under his belt.

    June 15, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  2. Ryan

    This is ridiculous. What words are allowed to be used that won't be considered an attack on his age? He really does seem confused about a lot of things.. whether or not that has to do with his age is not implied.

    June 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. Jayson

    James Monroe was almost 60 at the time he was first elected as president in the early 1800's and yet he was elected to a 2nd term. Considering the life expectancy of this time was extremely low in comparison why is it that this was not a huge factor then? Maybe because of the fact that the people wanted the person they considered best for the job and weren't willing to let a silly factor like age change who they voted for. Andrew Jackson at the time of his election to his first term was in poor health and also in his 60's and yet he was elected to a second term even though his health had continued to decline.

    If McCain was old and decrepid and made more then minor slips in what he said it would be one thing. But considering the fact that the average, normal, young, and healthy person is capable of making the same slips when it comes to the names of people and places it is a non-issue.

    It is funny that in a time where people are living much longer then when this country was founded people would try to use age as a factor on who to vote for. Age isn't going to persuade someone to vote for someone who is the most liberal senator just because he is young and charismatic. Anyone who can be won over on the basis of age obviously doesn't care about the real issues of this country anyways.

    June 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  4. Glad to be an Independent

    Losing hie bearings definitely refers to McCain's problem with controlling his anger. Democrats as well as Republicans confirm that angers sometimes gets out of control. Age has become an issue because McCain has confused becahse of John McCain. He confused who the Sunnis and Shiites were. He confused Iran and Iraq. Rightly or wrongly, people started asking questions about his age after his mistakes in public. Aga is an issue for me. Many have said the presidency ages a president about 10 years. McCain is 71 already. I am not interested in voting for a very old man!!!!!!!!!!

    June 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. Loretta from California

    It would appear so. Everything is an issue in this election. Religion was not an Issue for George Bush and his connection to religious leaders, but religion is an issue for these two Candidates.

    I guess everything is on the Table now.

    June 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. cherry strawberry

    CNN, Do you need to even ask this question? Have you heard the man speak? LOL. MC 2 Old is fighting dementia....HARD

    Young Americans For OBAMA!

    June 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. DOH!!!

    I don't think he is too old......just not too smart.

    June 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. Al - Florida

    Hey Obama,

    Show some respect for your elders, didn't you thank your own grandmother for all her wisdom and all she thought you...

    June 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. For Obama /no hillary vp

    When you reach the point others are continually reminding you of misstatements that you just said or past the point of making sound speeches and decisions for yourself then you certainly have no business running a country or dealing with the world as one misspeak in this level job could be a dire mistake for the whole world.
    I fail to understand why anyone with these problems would even want to be in that position unless its just their own selfish ego

    June 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Obama is unfair person. Age means experience, Obama is naive and arrogant, McCain will be a better President than Obama. I respect McCain and his wife than anti-white and anti-American couple. Michelle calls us "Whitey", wake up whitey, vote for McCain.

    June 15, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  11. Betsy

    Along with his age comes ooodles of experience. His doctor says he's healthy. He certainly hasn't sat on the side lines during the election so far, and appears to be "energized." Besides – 71 is not "old" these days anyways – people are living much much later than that - No, he's not too old.

    Signed
    a "clintonite" .... waiting to decide if she is a new "Regan Democrat" who will be going republican this year....

    June 15, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. Ms.Walker OHIO

    "Losing bearings" can happen at any age! If they want to make an issue of these comments it's because they know that McCain is going to lose this election and they are grasping for straws!

    June 15, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. steve J (Austin Texas)

    McCain has lost his bearing but it has nothing to do with his age.

    He had to move further to the right to attempt to get the base GOP support. In doing so he compromised numerous values that he previously opposed within his own party.

    Those Sen. Clinton fans should think carefully about voting for McCain in protest. I know it is hard when she came so close. Think about what will happen when conservative judges are appointed to the Supreme Court. Roe vs. Wade will be overturned and young girls will return to the back allies for abortions.

    Age isn't the factor, truth of character is

    Obama 2008

    June 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. Annette, Washington, DC

    Not so much about his age, but how's his memory?

    June 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. LIAR OBAMA

    Oh my,have you heard...................Obama can walk on water. That's what he said and I believe everything he says because I'm an obama supporter.

    June 15, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. Jaun

    OF COURSE HE IS TOO OLD.
    McDinosaur wil only keep us outmoded with his patronizing MY FRIEND talks.And he looks so sick.
    AMERICA FOR OBAMA.
    GO OBAMA...OBAMA 08.

    June 15, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. Ellie in Aurora, CO

    McCain has talked about Obama's "youth and inexperience", and yet his campaign goes on the defensive at any perceived comment of McCain's age. I would say that McCain is the one who has brought up the age issue. If he doesn't want age to be an issue, then he should stop talking about it himself.

    June 15, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Mary - Independent

    John McCain is older than Obama. However, unless his age has influence on old-fashioned ideas and not for a changing world, then his age could be a problem. He is flip-flop on some issues and with other issues, it appears that he believes in the Bush regime. He needs to pick up more momentum on the campaign trail, if he wants to convince voters that he should be President.

    June 15, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. Lee

    Since Obama and the democrats have no substance or issues to discuss, once again they are resorting to personal attacks. I am a Hillary supporter. I feel like Barak Obama has been packaged and sold ... or, rather rammed down our throats, by the DNC, and the media. Us Clinton supporters have endured countless insults from the Obama followers, in countless blogs and posts. And, now even though they need our votes, they still disrespect us. I would never vote for Obama, and I hope that my fellow Clinton supporters join me in voting for Senator John McCain in November.

    June 15, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. cheryl

    I have a great deal of respect for the elderly, but Mr. McCain demonstrates that age does matter, he fumbles his words, speaks into the wrong end of the microphone, etc, etc, etc. He has served his country with honor, but it is time for him to let a different generation step in and turn our country around.

    June 15, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  21. Lynne, New Hampshire

    All I can say is that being president ages a person dramatically. If you look at before and after pictures of almost any of the Presidents – Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, GHW Bush - they all looked used-up after their presidencies. In contrast, W has spent so much time delegating and on vacation he hasn't been affected, but Cheney looks like Death. McCain doesn't look great NOW...

    June 15, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  22. An old white Woman

    sure he is too old like mama..and mama will vote Obama 08

    June 15, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. AntiMcCain

    I love how the voters that claim to give a "reality check" about Obama losing to McGramps in the fall.. Just for fun, I'll throw out my own "reality checks", for what it's worth. We'll see whose "reality" comes true...

    Reality check #1: chance is always a factor, and I would gladly concede that Obama may lose. But I don't think it will happen (see #3).

    Reality check #2: HILLARY HAS ALREADY LOST! Stop fighting the past.

    Reality check #3: A lot of us want Obama to win, and record numbers have turned out to vote for both Democratic canididates.

    Reality check #4: You can't use primary numbers to predict a general election.

    Reality check #5: When you add the support of a lot of Hillary supporters that AREN'T bitter about their candidate losing, expect to see Obama's support skyrocket. IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.

    McGramps ......go take a nap,grab a depends, & get some ginko!

    June 15, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. Terry, Butte, Mt

    When McCain said It is common knowledge that Iran was training al queada and sending them back into Iraq and even repeated this even after Sen. Lieberman personally corrected him in the middle of an interview can only be described as being 'confused' – age has nothing to do with it.

    When McCain says that keeping our troops in Iraq for 100 years would be alright with him, even though the Iraqi leadership and the American people have stated many times that it is NOT alright with them, can only show that he is 'out of touch' in Iraq. – age has nothing to do with it.

    When McCain opposed legislation that would increase benefits and the New GI Bill to help our servicemen when they get out of the service and at the same time supporting torture tecniques that may but our servicemen at greater risk in this and future wars, but supported our troops with good common sense only a few years ago shows that once his bering were with the troops but now has drifted far right. This shows that he has 'lost his berings' he once had for the military. – age has nothing to do with it.

    Age is not the issue, his current policy decisions are.

    STOP THE SMEAR CNN.....

    June 15, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  25. Brad from SC

    Yes,
    I voted for McCain over W back in 2000. But won't vote for him now, because of his stance on the war and Obama's youthful motivating personality.

    June 15, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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