“I want you to know that also 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.” That was arguably Ronald Reagan’s best line from the 1984 presidential debates. Reagan was running for his second term, against Democratic challenger Walter Mondale. Reagan carried 49 of the 50 states (or 57, if you’re Obama).
I mention this because age and health are bound to be issues on the minds of voters as they evaluate presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who will turn 68 just before Election Day next year in much the same way youth and inexperience would be on the minds of voters in the unlikely event Marco Rubio became the Republican candidate. The chances of Rubio being anything more than a spoiler seem slim at this juncture, but in politics much can change.
Nevertheless, the comparisons between Clinton and Rubio were on the mind of “Morning Joe” cohost Mika Brzezinski, who participated in this exchange (video follows):
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: And you measure up accomplishments, and ability to weather the storm, an ability to have had experience that might apply to this job.
DONNY DEUTSCH: The Putin test. Who do you want to see across the table?
BRZEZINSKI: There’s not even — this is not even a conversation. She eats him for lunch. Come on.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You mean like Barack Obama and John McCain?
BRZEZINSKI: No, like Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio. There is no comparison. Maybe this is my ideology, but I’m sorry, but that’s a little boy and that’s an experienced accomplished woman who’s been elected to the Senate twice, who served First Lady, who served as Secretary of State.
DONNY DEUTSCH: Just feel something: just react in your tummy.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: So let somebody talk.
DEUTSCH: Uchh! Talk about the pot [calling the kettle black].
SCARBOROUGH: Hearing this from two people that worshipped Barack Obama —
DEUTSCH: — I didn’t worship —
SCARBOROUGH: — in 2008 is laughable.
NewsBusters’s Mark Finkelstein rhetorically asks, “Can you imagine if in 2008 a prominent conservative media member had said that Barack Obama looked like a “little boy” compared to John McCain?” Of course referring to Obama as a “boy” would come with its own ammunition, but the point is well-taken all the same.
As for Clinton’s age, expect the GOP to remind Americans repeatedly, although sometimes the Republicans can count on help from serendipity, including clumsy headline placement: