Feb 19, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Generational warfare threatens to rock 2024 presidential race

An illustration of an eagle with boxing gloves on

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios.

Both Democrats and Republicans are getting louder about old age as a reason to head off a rerun between President Biden, 80, and former President Trump, 76.

Why it matters: Democrats tell pollsters Biden's age is a big reason so many want another nominee. And some in the GOP are using Trump's age to push the party past his divisive era.

What's happening: High-level Dems tell Politico's Jonathan Martin that Biden is too old to run — although they're publicly backing him because they fear Trump could win if they nominate Vice President Kamala Harris.

  • Behind the scenes, Democratic governors and lawmakers voiced fears about nominating someone who'd be 86 at the end of his second term.
  • Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) said: "[I]f he were 15-20 years younger, it would be a no-brainer to nominate him, but considering his age it's absurd we're not promoting competition but trying to extinguish it."

On the Republican side, Nikki Haley, 51 — former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor — launched her presidential campaign with jabs at Biden that doubled as attacks on Trump.

  • Haley called for a mandatory mental competence test for candidates over age 75 and declared: "America is not past our prime. It's just that our politicians are past theirs."
  • She said the country is "ready for a new generation of leadership to lead us into the future."

What we're watching: Haley took the lead on the age argument, but many other younger Republicans are eyeing '24:

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is 44. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is 51. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is 56. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott is 57.

Reality check: A raft of Gen X candidates were trounced by Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020.

  • On the GOP side, they included Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
  • Democrats included Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and businessman Andrew Yang.

What's next: Gen X better hurry. The oldest millennials are now in their early 40s — plenty old enough to run for president.

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