Haley's Call for 'Competency Tests' Roils Bernie Sanders

'Absurd,' senator says of Haley's suggestion that politicians over 75 have their abilities assessed
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2023 8:52 AM CST
Sanders Slams Haley on 'Absurd' Idea for Politicians
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., outlines his priorities during an interview with the AP in his Capitol Hill office in Washington on Feb. 7.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

CNN host Don Lemon has come under fire for a comment he recently made about Nikki Haley being past her "prime"—a remark made after the former South Carolina governor and current GOP presidential candidate noted she thought there should be mental "competency tests" for politicians over the age of 75. Now the tables have turned to leave 51-year-old Haley taking the heat, from none other than Bernie Sanders, who's 30 years her senior. The controversy started last week, when Haley made her official announcement that she was running for president in 2024.

"America is not past our prime. It's just that our politicians are past theirs," she said, suggesting the idea of competency tests for the older set, reports Axios. "I think that's absurd," Sanders, 81, said Sunday on Face the Nation, per the Hill. "We are fighting racism, we're fighting sexism, we're fighting homophobia—I think we should also be fighting ageism." He went on to say that candidates should be judged on their merit, policies, and ideas only, adding, per Politico: "There are a lot of 40-year-olds out there who ain't particularly competent. Older people ... you look at the individual. I don't think you make a blanket statement."

The conversation emerges as President Biden, already the oldest US president in history at 80, is expected to run as the Democratic incumbent in 2024; he would turn 82 soon after Election Day. Former President Trump, meanwhile, who has already announced his candidacy on the GOP side, is only four years younger than Biden at 76. Sanders, who was himself a major presidential candidate in 2016 and 2020, hasn't indicated if he's mulling a third run, but current cues are that he's sticking with Team Biden. "If he runs ... I will support him," Sanders said Sunday, per the Hill. (More Bernie Sanders stories.)

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