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Oldest presidential candidates in history
Shown above, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are only two of the many politicians who fit the bill for the title of senior citizen. This election cycle is unique for many reasons, but each of the top presidential candidates is a senior citizen. Hillary Clinton Photo courtesy: Lorie Shaull; Donald Trump photo courtesy: Darryl Smith)
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By James Mejia

When elected, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will only be the third president in the history of the country to serve during their 70s. Ronald Reagan left the presidency at 77 and Dwight Eisenhower departed at age 70. Currently 68-years-of-age, Secretary Clinton would serve in her 70s during her first term. Trump would start his first term at the age of 70. Together, they are the oldest duo to ever nab the presidential nominations for the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively. If elected, Trump at 70, would be the oldest elected U.S. president ever and Clinton would be 69, just one year shy of Ronald Reagan’s current ‘oldest ever’ ranking. The elder state of these candidates is raising questions as to their health and suitability to serve for four or possibly eight years in our country’s highest office.

Because the candidates are compared to each other at this point, the issue of health and age may actually have taken a back seat. This contrasts with eight years ago when septuagenarian Republican, John McCain, faced off against a youthful Barack Obama. With a myriad of questions about his health given a history of cancer and comparative age, McCain released a tome of more than a thousand pages of doctor’s reports showing his health for public service.

The current candidates have released much less. One year ago, Secretary Clinton released a two-page letter from her New York doctor, Lisa Bardack, which summarizes her health status. In that letter, Dr. Bardack mentions, “Her past medical history is notable for a deep vein thrombosis in 1998 and in 2009, an elbow fracture in 2009 and a concussion in 2012.” Her doctor also notes that Clinton is on blood thinning medication but, “She takes no other medications on a regular basis and has no known drug allergies. She does not smoke and drinks alcohol occasionally. She does not use illicit drugs or tobacco products. She eats a diet rich in lean protein, vegetables and fruits. She exercises regularly, including yoga, swimming, walking and weight training.” The letter ends with, “She is in excellent physical condition and fit to serve as President of the United States.”

In December, 2015, Trump released a four-paragraph letter from his doctor, Harold Bornstein. Trump’s doctor since 1980, Bornstein states, “Mr. Trump has had a recent complete medical examination that showed only positive results… His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary.” As when the candidate speaks himself, the hyperbole in the letter is hard to miss, “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” In writing about the letter, Trump said he does not have a regular exercise routine but that the campaign keeps him active.

Vice Presidential Candidates

Historically, vice presidential candidates have been selected to counterbalance the party nominee. Nearly 100 percent of the VP candidates have been white males, save one female candidate on each side of the aisle – the 1984 pairing of Geraldine Ferraro with Democratic presidential candidate, Walter Mondale, and the 2008 Sarah Palin selection to run with Republican presidential candidate, John McCain. Besides the ability to win toss-up states, VP nominees have traditionally been selected to complement skill area and expertise.

For Secretary Clinton, the selection of Tim Kaine (interviewed for an article in this publication on February 24, 2016 and can be found at does add executive branch experience from the toss up state of Virginia and in this case, more youth. Former Mayor of Richmond and Governor of Virginia, Kaine is 58 years old, an entire decade younger than his nominated counterpart.

Republican nominee, Donald Trump also chose to run with an executive branched experienced vice presidential candidate, Indiana Governor, Mike Pence. Pence’s youth, at 57 years of age, also comes into play with his Republican running mate a full 13 years older.

The selections from both candidates are safe from a political perspective and the youth they bring to the respective tickets should help to quiet any concerns about the age of the presidential candidates themselves.

Trend of Older Workers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the three decades between 1977 and 2007 have witnessed an increase in the employment of workers 65 years of age and older by over 100 percent. While men over 65 have increased 75 percent in the workplace, employed women over the age of 65 have increased by a whopping 147 percent. The population of seniors has steadily declined from World War II until the 1980s when it started a new ascent. From a high of over 45 percent in the late 1940s, to a low of about 17 percent in the 1980s, workers over 65 years of age now top 20 percent.

The Government Accountability Office claims that one in five U.S. workers are over the age of 55, and one in three are 50 years old or older. In addition, the age of retirement is increasing from 65 to 70 years of age. Their reports also point out, however, that the number of disabilities associated with advanced age workers will also increase. They show that 42 percent of workers over the age of 65 have some workplace disability. However, increased life expectancy and improved fitness for many U.S. seniors have allowed many to outlive their parents with better health and quality of life in later years.

The United States is ranked 31st among 183 nations in terms of life expectancy. U.S. women are expected to live to age 81.6 years of age on average and men are expected to live to 76.9 years of age on average. Much of this rate is dependent upon family genetics. Good news for both presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton’s father lived into his 80s and her mother lived into her 90s. Donald Trump reported that his parents both lived in good health until their 80s.

Age of World Leaders

Some of the oldest heads of state are from dictatorships around the world including 92-year-old Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe and 85-year-old Cuban leader, Raul Castro. The trends are much younger in democratic nations. A scan of 195 country leaders shows an average age of 60 years old, eight years younger than Hillary Clinton and a decade younger than Donald Trump. The Zimbabwe and Cuban dictators skew the age of world leaders higher but the leaders of Eastern European countries balance out the ages, including presidents from Georgia, Estonia and Moldova, all serving in their 30s. If elected, Secretary Clinton would be older than about 77 percent of all world leaders and if elected, Donald Trump would be older than approximately 82 percent of all other world leaders. [1]

[1] The Age of Current World Leaders,





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