Feb 18, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Cognitive tests for presidential candidates a "good idea," Reagan's daughter says

Patti Davis, the daughter of former President Reagan, said cognitive tests for presidential candidates would "probably be a good idea," per an interview with NBC News that aired Sunday.

Why it matters: Davis' remarks come as voters across party lines have expressed concerns over the ages of 81-year-old President Biden and 77-year-old former President Trump — the likely 2024 presidential nominees.

What she's saying: "Probably. Yeah. I mean, in just what we know about what age can do," Davis told NBC News' Kristen Welker when asked whether there should be cognitive tests for presidential candidates.

  • "It doesn't always do that, but it would probably be a good idea," Davis said.
  • "My father was 77 when he left office after two terms. It seems so young now, doesn't it?" she said.

Zoom out: Reagan, sworn in at 69, was the oldest president to ever be elected at the time he took office.

  • Davis said Reagan was "not someone who was fractured in age."
  • "I mean, yes, I probably thought he was old because he was my father, and we think that about our parents, but not in the way that we're talking about now," she said.

Meanwhile, Davis said she thinks her father would be "appalled" at the state of politics in the country, adding that Reagan "didn't understand lack of civility" or "attacking another person."

  • "I think he would be really scared for our democracy. I don't know who – I think he would address people more than any candidates, you know? I think he would address the American people at what has divided us," she added.
  • "In my own opinion and, I don't know, I think this probably is how he would think, is our divisions really started because we're all so scared," Davis said.

Worth noting: Trump, sworn in at 70, broke Reagan's record in 2017. Biden then beat that record when he took office at 78 years old in 2021.

  • An overwhelming 59% of Americans think both Biden and Trump are "too old" to serve as president again, according to a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll.

Go deeper: Over 75% of voters want maximum age limit for elected officials, poll shows

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